Monday, September 2, 2013

Yo, Tartuffe!

Tartuffe image from Facebook
It’s been too long since I wrote a pseudo-script. Today’s topic: Molière's Tartuffe, a play that scandalized seventeenth-century French society for its ribald depiction of religious hypocrisy. The comedy stems from Orgon's ill-fated choice to bring a charlatan named Tartuffe into his household. Once ensconced, the impostor begins to woo Orgon's wife, Elmire, while working to seize the property through legal chicanery. Goaded by his mother, the holier-than-thou Madame Pernelle, Orgon persists in believing Tartuffe's claims of piety. What's worse, he insists that his daughter, poor, pathetic Mariane, break her engagement with local nice-guy Valère to marry their sleazy houseguest. Orgon's brother-in-law Cléante tries to warn him, as does a wisecracking servant named Dorine, but the foolish patriarch will brook no debate. Is there no hope for reason and romance to escape Tartuffe's web of lies? 

Madame Pernelle: Oh, I'm so glad that my son has invited Monsieur Tartuffe to live in his home. He is such a good man! 

Dorine: You really are an idiot, aren’t you?

Madame Pernelle: And you’re a miserable servant girl, so please shut up! Well, I've got to go now. See you at the end of the play!

Orgon: Hi ho! I'm back from wherever I was. So, Dorine, how's tricks?

Dorine: Tricks aren’t good, sir. Not good at all. You see, Elmire’s has been sick for days and –

Orgon: – The wife’s feeling ill, huh? Bummer! So, how's Tartuffe?

Dorine: Butthead...

Orgon: Shut up!

[Orgon’s brother-in-law drops by…]

Cléante: Say, Orgon, what’s this I hear about you breaking your daughter’s engagement with Valère?

Orgon: Well, I just think that she’d be better off with Tartuffe. He’s such a good fellow. And she needs some religious guidance anyway. She’s been hanging around those free-thinking fops for too long.

Cléante: “It's as if you think you'd never find / Reason and the sacred intertwined.”

Orgon: Huh?

[Mariane drifts into the room…]

Mariane: Welcome back, Dad! Say, I heard the strangest thing. Someone who had clearly tasted too much wine said that you want me to marry that weird old dude living in our house.

Orgon: Of course I do! Don’t you see? By marrying an old man with no personal income, you’re sure to live an awesome life!

Dorine: Sorry, sir, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop. You’re not really going to force your daughter to marry that creeper, are you?

Orgon: That’s exactly what I expect! And not that it’s any concern of yours, but Mariane would be better off with Tartuffe. That Valère fellow’s nice enough, but he’s got no ambition. He's just a poor nobody. But Tartuffe, well, since I’ve been lending him all my cash he’s dressing fine! He’ll make a great husband.


Orgon: Shut up!

[Orgon departs, leaving a cloud of Eau de Cluelessness in his wake…]

Mariane: Oh Dorine, I’ll just kill myself if dad makes me marry that pervy old fart.

Dorine: That’s your plan, to kill yourself?

Mariane: Pretty much. I’m just a girl, you know. Can’t do much else.

Dorine: Maybe it’s just as well then.

Mariane: Well what then?

Dorine: I dunno. Maybe you should speak with your fiancé. Maybe Valère will help you grow a spine.

Mariane: Only if that’s what he wants.

Dorine: Butthead...

Valère: Say, Mariane, what’s this I hear about you marrying Tartuffe?

Mariane: Where the hell did you come from?

Valère: Just off-stage, right over there.

Mariane: Ah, I see. Well, my dad wants me to marry Tartuffe, so there’s nothing else I can do.

Valère: Being just a woman and all…

Mariane: Yeah…

Valère: Well I guess that’s it then…

Mariane: Yeah…

Dorine: Buttheads! You can get married. Just give me some time to get things arranged!

Valère: Um, aren’t you, like, the maid or something?

Dorine: Yeah, but I’m really good.

Valère: I see.

[Time passes. The house grows dingier…]

Damis: I'm so pissed about that cad Tartuffe marrying my sister!

Dorine: Chill, little dude. I have a plan.

Damis: What, to polish the silver?


Damis: Shut up!

[Tartuffe arrives at last, finding Elmire alone in the house…]

Tartuffe: Oh, Elmire, I’m so concerned about your health! I heard that you’ve been quite ill. So, anyway, I’m wondering: Can we have sex?

Elmire: Um, I think I need to talk to my husband about this...

Tartuffe: Uh

Elmire: – But I won't – as long as you tell Orgon that Mariane’s wedding to Valère is back on.

[Suddenly Damis leaps from behind some sort of large object…]

Damis: Aha! I heard everything. And I will tell my dad about you trying to seduce my mom! And then I’m calling Maury Povich. This stuff is messed up!

Orgon: Hiya, folks! Back again. So, what have y'all been talking about?

Damis: Oh nothing. Just Tartuffe trying to do your wife!

Elmire: Jeez. What's your deal, Damis?

Orgon: Tartuffe, my chaste friend. Is this true?

Tartuffe: Yes. Every word. I feel really bad about it though.

Orgon: Of course you do! Your virtue knows no bounds. Chill, Damis!

Damis: Don't you see what a bastard this guy is?

Orgon: That's it. Tartuffe and Mariane are getting married. Tonight! And as for you, Damis, hit the bricks.

Tartuffe: Oh, Orgon, I feel so bad about this!

Orgon: There, there. That little bastard's gone now.

Tartuffe: No, I really should go too. I've caused too much of a ruckus.

Orgon: No, stay!

Tartuffe: Well, OK. But you’ll certainly insist that I stay away from that luscious wife of yours. I wouldn’t want to stir up any rumors.

Orgon: What, with those busybody neighbors of ours? Screw ‘em. I insist that you hang out with my wife – especially when I’m not around.  

Tartuffe: But 

Orgon: – And what’s more: I'll disinherit that good-for-nothing son of mine and make you my heir!

Tartuffe: Well, OK. So... I’d best be going. Time to find a decent suit for the wedding. If only I could find my wallet...

Orgon: Don’t be silly. Take mine!

Tartuffe: Oh, Orgon. You’re the best!

[Tartuffe departs...]

Mariane: Oh, dad. Please don't make me marry that skeezoid.

Orgon: Suck it. That's the plan.

Elmire: Are you crazy?

Orgon: I'm the only sane one around here!

Elmire: Husband, listen to me. Tartuffe is a straight-up super-skank. And I can prove it. Just hide somewhere in the house, and you’ll see what a scoundrel this supposedly pious guru-guy really is.

Orgon: OK, I could hide in the closet!

Elmire: No, this table is just fine. Just hide underneath and we’ll wait for Tartuffe to show up. It won’t be long before he starts trying to have his way with me. I'll make a loud coughing sound to alert you. That’s when you leap out to save me.

Orgon: Or listen for a while…

[Dorine takes a break from eaves-dusting…]


[More time passes. Then Tartuffe returns...]

Tartuffe: Excuse me. I just stopped back a minute to –

Elmire: – “light my fire,” I hope! See, I want you after all! That’s why I told you not to marry my daughter. I want you all for myself!

Tartuffe: Cool! Let's have sex!

Elmire: Definitely. But for now let’s just kiss. [Cough]

Tartuffe: Cool! Then let's have sex!

Elmire: Yes, by all means. But aren't you worried about my husband – or going to hell? [Cough!]

Tartuffe: Surprisingly, no.

Elmire: [COUGH!]

Tartuffe: That's some cough you've got there. Want some Licorice?

Elmire: Um, you know, my husband might be in the house right now. And let me add that if you and I have sex, on this table, where he could be hiding this very instant, well, it’d be his fault! [COUGH! COUGH!]

Tartuffe: Jeez. OK, I'll look around and see if Orgon’s hiding nearby. But I’m not up for any three-way action. The Ménage à-stuff is a sin.

[Tartuffe walks into another room…]

Orgon: That bastard!

Elmire: Oh, dear, did you hear something? Are you sure you don’t want to keep hiding under the table to enjoy the whole show?

[Orgon steps out from under the table…]

Orgon: I told you I should have hid in the closet.

Elmire: Yeah, I see your point.

[Tartuffe returns…]

Tartuffe: No sign of him, Elmire. Say, I’ve got a great idea: Let’s celebrate by having sex!

Orgon: Tartuffe, you bastard, you tried to seduce my wife!

Tartuffe: Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I've gotta plead ignorance on this –

Orgon: – Get out of my house!

Tartuffe: I will. But you'll be sorry…


Cléante: So, things are bad, huh?

Orgon: Worse. Turns out, I gave Tartuffe a box that contain some embarrassing papers – papers that would piss off the King.

Cléante: Strange how you never mentioned those papers before. Oh well. I guess you could say that you’re “royally screwed.”

Orgon [flashes Cléante a double-take]: Yeah, I guess. But at least I’ve learned that Tartuffe is a religious hypocrite. Moreover I now see that all religious people are evil!

Cléante: "Moderation": You should try it sometime.

Damis: Don't listen, Dad. I’d kill the guy!

Madame Pernelle: I'm back, folks! How are things with Tartuffe? Y’all must be real holy rollers by now!

Orgon: Hi, Mom. No, not so much. Tartuffe tried to hook up with my wife. And now he’s taken some secret documents, probably to the King. We’re gonna get tossed onto the street!

Madame Pernelle: Serves you right.

Orgon: Yeah... Wait, what? Aren’t you supposed to be my mother?

Bailiff: Knock, knock!

Orgon: Who the hell are you?

Bailiff: Local bailiff, sir. I'm the guy telling you that Tartuffe owns your house now.

Damis: That magnificent bastard...

Dorine: So boss, you’re learning your lesson now, huh?

Orgon: Oh my God, Dorine, why won't you shut up!

[Valère ambles by, a sweet, stupid look on his face…]

Valère: Hi folks. Say, I heard that Tartuffe stole your money and is taking your house. So, would you like some gold?

Orgon: [Derp]

Valère: Turns out, I’m rich. Yeah, me: the guy you accused of being a "poor nobody."

Orgon: Sorry about that. Um, thanks for the money.

[Tartuffe returns, bringing a servant of King Louis XIV…]

Tartuffe: Hey all! I’m back, and I bought an officer of the King to arrest you.

Officer: Yeah, about that. Actually I'm here to arrest you.

Tartuffe: What?

Officer: Do you think our king is a butthead? He's the freakin' Sun King, yo. He sees all, and he definitely sees through you. So it’s off to jail for you, Tartuffe. Oh, and Orgon, don't stress about that secret box. The King doesn't care about its contents. Just remember: Don’t screw with Louis XIV.

Orgon: Oui!

[Orgon turns a malicious gaze upon Tartuffe…]

OrgonAnd as for you –

Cléante: – Orgon, what did I tell you about moderation?

[Everyone in the family laughs, except for Tartuffe who really is royally screwed…]

Orgon: OK, now that this unpleasantness is behind us, it's time for a wedding!

Everyone: Oh, dad!

More Pseudo Scripts

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