My cousin, Dustin (pictured, left), has lived in NYC for a dozen years ... and we've seen each other approximately three times. All throughout, he's been an actor and has occasionally suggested to me (via social media) shows in which he was appearing that I could attend, but I knew something was up when he implored me to attend his latest. I knew that any smart actor would want to show off a good performance or a good project ... and I was right on both counts.
Three Day Hangover's Tartuffe!—brilliantly updated from Molière's 17-century classic by Jake Brandman and just as brilliantly directed by Beth Gardiner—is a hysterically funny take that imagines the titular fraud (smarmtastic Tom Schwans) as a right-wing politician. The modernization is distressingly topical, retooling Tartuffe as a sort of secretly gay Donald Trump, a buffoon propped up by the money of his clueless benefactress, Olga (Carol Linnea Johnson, who nails her character with a dash of Julia Duffy and a tablespoon of Ana Gasteyer).
Mr. Schwans appears in his underwear in this production, which is definitely how Olivier got started.
Olga is so taken with Tartuffe (her mother, a gasbag portrayed in drag by Dillon Heape, is even more entranced) she would do anything to feed his ambitions, including offering up the hand of her pregnant airhead of a daughter (pitch-perfect Abbey Siegworth) in order to resolve the voter-unfriendliness of his devout bachelorhood.
Aided and abetted by Dustin Charles's subversively heroic-turned-parodic portrayal of a 420-friendly, firebrand liberal reminiscent of Rob Reiner's Meathead and an out-of-this-world turn (more like a pirouette) by Dan Morrison as a coked-up would-be assassin, the production is funny enough to enjoy without getting wasted, and yet the troupe takes no chances: Throughout, the show stops for audience-participation moments of the drinking game Never Have I Ever.
And after you've experienced this show, there won't be many things you never haven't ever seen, done or laughed at.
Catch Tartuffe! closing night, tomorrow, Saturday, November 21, at McAlpin Hall at West Park Church/86th & Amsterdam.