The Oasis Theatre Company commissioned local actor and technical theater artist David Carter to pen a new translation of The Miser, Molière’s 17th-century farce about a wealthy man who suspects everyone — even his own children — of trying to steal his fortune. The world premiere of this new adaptation, which opens at the Oasis Theatre Company (3205-A Calle Marie) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, is based on the original 1668 script, which was first produced at the theater of the Palais-Royal in Paris.
Carter combined an old-world sensibility with some modern touches — and retained bits of (easy-to-understand) French, which director Brenda Lynn Bynum said has been both a delight and a challenge for the actors to move quickly between languages. Bynum, a co-founder of the Oasis Theatre Company, appears in the play as Frosine, a matchmaker with a few schemes up her sleeve, and Carter takes on the role of Valère, who is smitten with the Miser’s daughter, Elise ( Joey Beth Gilbert). Oasis co-founder James Jenner plays the miser, Harpagon.
Though The Miser is more than 350 years old, Bynum said that its plot about a man obsessed with his own wealth remains relevant today. Harpagon enjoys making money but reaps no happiness from its benefits other than the power it allows him to wield over others, such as his children and the servants he treats terribly. For its 2018-2019 season, Oasis has been exploring the theme of “trust issues,” which are at the heart of the non-financial aspects of The Miser as well — especially within the love triangle ensnaring Harpagon and his son, Cléante (Mark Westerberg), both of whom want to marry the same woman. In the end, Harpagon would rather be alone with his money than part of a large, loving family, so fearful is he that others will take advantage of him.
The Miser runs Thursday, March 21, through April 7, at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $25, available at 917-439-7708 and theoasistheatre.com.