In a dazzling team-up worthy of the great comic book superstars, Tim Mooney partners two of the greatest playwrights of all time in a tag-team display of stamina, talent and memory, combining his two one-man shows, MOLIERE THAN THOU and LOT O' SHAKESPEARE into an astonishing single evening of Seventeenth Century passion, drama and hilarity.
Over the past ten years, Mooney has introduced over a hundred thousand students to the uproarious French playwright in his hit play, MOLIERE THAN THOU. With the addition of LOT O' SHAKESPEARE to the repertory, Mooney presents an astonishing introduction to the two greatest writers of the Renaissance and Reformation in a mesmerizing and thrilling one-two punch!
As Molière, Mooney captures the playwright, still alive and funnier than ever. Mooney's Molière now speaks English, and is every bit as insightful, ribald, irreverent and enthusiastic as the first time around.
Mooney depicts Molière, abandoned by his cast and desperate to retain the box office income, parading through the most side-splitting scenes of French history, all the while getting the audience in on the act! MOLIERE THAN THOU reinvigorates some of the most beloved plays of all time, winning "Best of" from the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and named first among the "Top Ten Artistic Events of 2006" from the Chattanooga Pulse. Orlando Fringe Festival reviewers raved "Clearly Molière lives," "A delight for all those who appreciate the barbed satire and slyly nuanced language in Molière's classic skewerings of the rich and pompous."
Following a brief intermission, Mooney returns with LOT O' SHAKESPEARE, celebrating the most soaring speeches, outrageously tangled scenarios, wicked double-entendres, and most delicious soliloquies ever written! Mooney has memorized one monologue from every Shakespeare play, and the order of their performance is chosen entirely at random by the spinning of a Bingo cage! The audience plays along on their individual "IAGO" cards, and the first to match four play titles in a row wins a t-shirt! And while the game turns it all into fun, in the process the audience discovers Shakespeare's genius coming to life in passionate scenes of action, character and power!
Mooney's performance is literate, enthusiastic, and athletic, bounding from Shakespeare's hilarious Comedies, to his passionate Tragedies, to his epic Histories, all at the drop of a ping pong ball! Audiences are astonished to discover just how contemporary, vivid and playfully fulfilling these plays are, whether cheering the battle cries of Henry V ("Even better than Kenneth Branagh's!"), feeling chills down their necks from Julius Caesar ("I found myself weeping over Caesars dead body!"), laughing hysterically over Comedy of Errors, or catching their breath at the beauty of the sonnets!
Somehow, Mooney manages to find the dramatic power in each monologue or situation, and reviewers have repeatedly celebrated how completely accessible these pieces are, "regardless of the obscurity of the monologue."
Put these two plays together (separated only by a brief intermission, and you've got a jaw-droppingly astonishing one-two punch of classical theatre the feels as instantaneous and immediate as today's headlines or our most forward thinking, cutting edge satire.
Roland Underhill: How is what you do even possible? You must have… what? Three hours worth of material you're carrying around in your head?
Tim Mooney: Actually, with a couple of other shows I've got memorized, it's more like five hours. It's a very disciplined existence, but not impossible by any means. It demands a lot of rehearsal, and I drill my lines a lot.
RU: I, for one, have trouble even reading some of this material. On the page it seems dry and deadly. But on stage…?
TM: On stage it comes to life. And after rereading it and memorizing it, and realizing why this given clause is in this position, and why these particular vowels and these particular consonants stir rage, or pain, or sorrow, or conflict…
RU: But surely, it's not just the mechanics of speaking that stirs a given response…
TM: No, but it is a combination of that with all of the little clues that a great playwright leaves in his wake: the sense that this character is an awkward speaker, or that that character is a buffoon, or has a nasty attitude... Take those, and then look at the rhetorical mountain that Shakespeare builds in that character's way, and the process of climbing that mountain, stumbling over the rocks and crags that the language leaves sticking out, and the music of the language thunders with emotion. Just locating the periods… the stops in Shakespeare's sentences gives me a sense of the breadth and fullness of the statement. One of my monologues, from Coriolanus, for instance, only has four periods dividing the sentences, even though it's a good two and a half minutes long! The meaning and impact of those sentences cannot be realized in a first reading. It's only through repetition that the threads of the ideas begin to untangle themselves and reassemble with theatrical power. (I call this "Shakespeare spaghetti.")
RU: You're taking your examples from Shakespeare; what about Moliere?
TM: Well, there I've got an advantage. I actually wrote all of the material that I use in Moliere than Thou. I've written seventeen new versions of the plays of Moliere, all in rhymed iambic pentameter, and ten years ago I drew these speeches together, both as a celebration of the hilarity and delight of Moliere, and also to introduce the world to my particular variations of this work.
RU: How did THAT come about?
TM: Well, I was running a theatre company at the time, and when I wasn't directing Moliere, I was playing the same roles that Moliere, himself, played back in the 17th century. I was living, and am still living, a parallel existence with the original playwright, both of us touring our respective countries, three hundred years apart.
RU: So, is this about as close as we can get to seeing Moliere performing his own work?
TM: Well, I might like to think so, but I'll let the audience judge. What I can say is that after about 35 years of acting, I've developed some theatrical instincts. And those instincts enable me to get a little further up that mountain from time to time… whether it means capturing a nuance, or making sense of a scene that might otherwise pass unnoticed.