Direction Clément Hervieu-Léger
Alceste is in love with Célimène, an independent-minded young woman who, following her recent widowhood, has taken to presiding over her own salon. Troubled by a trial whose outcome he fears, Alceste goes to her home, accompanied by his friend Philinte, whom he reproaches for his complacent attitude towards society. He wants his mistress to publicly declare her affections to him. But he hadn’t counted on the unexpected arrival of a gentleman who writes terrible poetry, two Marquis of the Court, Célimène’s cousin Eliante, who has taken an apartment above Célimène’s, and Arsinoé, who warns Célimène that there are rumours circulating about her character. The Misanthrope depicts a society free from parental and religious influence, whose social veneer peels away as soon as desire is aroused. Over the course of a day, while being pushed to the limit by Alceste’s uncompromising resistance to all forms of social niceties, the characters reveal the contradictions of human beings who obey reasons of the heart that are unknowable to reason.
The actor and director Clément Hervieu-Léger joined the Comédie-Française in 2005. Outside the Comédie-Française, he has directed Francesco Cavalli’s Didone with the Les Art Florissants ensemble conducted by William Christie, and Marivaux’s The Test with the Petits Champs company of which he has been artistic co-director since 2010. It was after staging the Critique of the School for Wives at the Studio-Théâtre in 2011 that Clément Hervieu-Léger decided to direct The Misanthrope, a comedy in verse whose roots can be found in the Critique. Fascinated by the “sociological perspective” that Molière brings, his staging seeks to bring out the tensions of a society salon in crisis.