Ms. Thomas’ previous and similar rollicking version of Moliere's Les Femmes Savantes
delighted audiences off-Broadway in 1991, in a production starring Jean Stapleton as Philamente, a blossoming literary lady on the verge of coming into her own. It was re-imagined in 1993 at ACT in San Francisco, with many productions throughout the country since then. During the Salon movement of the 17th century, women, thirsty for knowledge and freedom, began to read, discuss and absorb all the learning they could now get their hands on. Frequently, into that mix came sycophants and opportunists, to take advantage of the budding but not fully formed intelligence of the Women's Movement. Enter Trissotin, a mediocre poet with a lot of sex appeal and little literary talent, who all but seduces Philamente, determined to be at the forefront of the movement. Equally determined to marry him off to her younger daughter (who just wants to marry her sweetheart Lycandre and raise children), she bullies her meek husband into tacitly agreeing, and the machinations that follow between family members, visiting poets and maids who refuse to learn proper French are predictably and delightfully Molière. This version strays from a strictly literal translation of the play, often employing anachronisms in the rhymed couplets that may appall purists, but have delighted audiences since its original inception. In this new version, there are 6 women and 4 men, and the familiar "Voice of Reason", present in almost every Moliere play and always a male, is now, for the first time, FEMALE! If you want your audiences to roll with laughter as they recognize their hilarious selves in the midst of a “Feminist culture,” this version is for you.
"The show’s most consistently enlivening presence is that of translator and adapter Freyda Thomas, who translates the playwright’s alexandrine verse of 1672 into vital musical forms marked by crisp and unexpected rhymes, period echoes and cheerfully clanging anachronisms….Thomas harmonizes the classical and the contemporary to make us hear Moliere’s wit in an appealing new key." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Flavoring her rhymed couplets with contemporary anachronism, adapter Freyda Thomas has devised a pop version of Moliere that amalgamates styles and periods entertainingly. As a result, Ms. Thomas serves the ends of the 17thcentury French classic and the latter day spectator. The outcome is general satisfaction and general merriment." - Christian Science Monitor
"Thomas' modernisms smartly put the satire's emphasis on the pomposity rather than the feminism of the Precieuse Movement. " - Variety