A Cabal of Hypocrites and Don Quixote, remembering Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov survived both Stalinist suppression and patronage. In his play, ''The Cabal of Hypocrites,'' Bulgakov saw Moliere as an earlier equivalent of himself, as a writer victimized by a ruler, in Moliere's case, by Louis XIV.
-MEL GUSSOW, Special to the New York Times
Published: March 20, Protected content
In this play-within-a-play adapted by company Producing Director Charles A. Duncombe (Caged, The Mission (Accomplished), The Trojan Women), phantasmagorical characters from Bulgakov’s novel The Master and the Margarita, led by the Mephistophelian Professor Woland (Nathan Dana Aldrich), assume the role of the secret police to arrest Bulgakov and force him to witness a performance of his banned, and therefore unproduceable, satire Moliere, or the Cabal of Hypocrites.
Bulgakov depicts Moliere (George Villas) as an aging roue and unrepentant critic of sanctimonious censorship and spurious orthodoxy, and the parallels to the Soviet police state are unmistakable.
Duncombe, in turn, gilds the lily by updating many of the references within the 17th century French setting of the Moliere story to baldly mimic contemporary critiques of hypocritical religious zealots enforcing phony moral pieties to gain political power.
-Myron Meisel. A satire of creativity under the Russian Stalinist regime.
His play uses the 17th-century Catholic church as a chilling metaphor for the oppressive Soviet state. In one of the best scenes, we see a clerical cabal extort confessions from Molière's associates and threaten Madeleine with eternal damnation. And, when Louis XIV is told "the kingdom can't be kept in being without informers", the worlds of Paris and Moscow effortlessly merge.
Published: 27 November Protected content
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