Simon Nagra as Imran and Asif Khan as Tartuffe. Pictures: Geraint Lewis


Birmingham Rep


It is inevitably difficult making a classic appeal to modern audiences but the Rep production of Tartuffe does this with aplomb, engaging and delighting the audience and ending with a standing ovation.

Tartuffe, written by French maverick Molière, is perhaps best understood as a story of religious hypocrisy; it reminds us that appearances can be deceptive and warns us to be aware of false prophets, themes which still resonate today.

This production transposes the setting from France to the home of a wealthy Pakistani Muslim family in modern day Birmingham. While the script has been re-written with some local references and humour being enjoyed by the audience, it follows the original themes and characters closely and feels as relevant now as it ever was. 


Olga Fedori as Darina

The play starts slightly incongruously but explosively with a big sound and dance number which felt a bit unnecessary but certainly gained the attention of the audience and introduces us to the family cleaner Darina superbly played by Olga Fedori who sets the scene.

The first act has a lot of ground to cover to establish the story, introducing us to the family and laying out the background to the religious devotion which has led to Imran Pervaiz (Simon Nagra) falling in thrall to the conman Tartuffe (Asif Khan)and the subsequent devastation he wreaks on family life.

In the original script Tartuffe’s hypocrisy is slowly revealed but is here managed more directly: here we are ‘told’ rather than it being revealed and the audience is never really ‘taken in’ by Tartuffe. While this may compress the storyline, perhaps to suit modern audiences understandable sensibilities for shorter plays it does risk losing some of the original power of the play. 

tartuffe 2

Simon Nagra as Imran and Siddiqua Akhtar as Dadimaa Pervaiz

Act two delivers on every count. Funny, fast paced and at times shocking, it is hugely entertaining and hits the message of the play firmly home.

Overall, the play was an excellent reworking of a classic performed by a superbly talented cast. The writer and director have successfully brought it up to date and although it may lack some of the nuance of the original it still feels relevant, important and funny.

The clever use of lighting and set design are excellent, allowing for rapid scene changes and although minimalistic, provide a sense of family wealth.

This excellent show runs to 05-11-22

Rob Phillips and Martin Walker


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