Les enfants terribles

Stage West's brat pack makes The Misanthrope sizzle

It's easy to relish Moliere for the way he makes pure venom so tasty, but to commemorate him as the biggest bitch of 17th century France does him, and his audiences, a disservice: His characters ofttimes haven't grown a whit wiser by the time the curtain falls, but we've been invited to peer under their masks, and the frightened children that brandish these adult tongues are heartbreaking and instructive specimens. Stage West's Brat Pack edition of The Misanthrope seems all the more appropriate, then--all these pretty baby faces who've enjoyed too much success too soon have yet to learn an ounce of self-scrutiny to balance it. Whether it's the rigid, self-righteous "purity" of Alceste or the shallow duplicity of Celimene, the moral is the same: Individuals who don't recognize their own folly are destined to become defined by it.

The Misanthrope runs through February 7. Call (817)

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