Dallas Theater Center premieres “The School for Wives”

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Men can start companies, conduct experiments, and solve the hardest of political dilemmas. But there’s just one issue they haven’t been able to figure out for, well, ever. What is the problem that has plagued the male species throughout history? Women.

The Dallas Theater Center’s new production, “The School for Wives,” tells the story of Arnolphe, a foolish man who thinks he has devised a plan for the “perfect marriage” and finally figured out how to handle women. Originally written by Moliere in 1663, this comedic tale has a foundation of brilliant writing, but the Dallas Theater Center took the script to a whole new level.

Poor Arnolphe’s plan goes like this. Have nuns raise a beautiful child in a place with no outside contact. Keep her cleverness to a minimum. Once this lovely yet stupid maiden comes of age, place her in a house with two even more unintelligent butlers to keep her in the house. And his ultimate scheme? Marry this much younger ditz who lacks the intelligence to cheat on him and make him a dreaded “cuckhold.” Did this plan of his work? Well what do you think? SPOILER ALERT: He failed miserably.

Arnolphe’s grand concoction takes a turn for the worst when a young charmer graces the town with his presence and falls for Anolphe’s marital project, Agnès. Now considering Agnès doesn’t exactly possess the greatest sense of discernment of right and wrong, she falls for Horace, the young player, and Arnolphe’s plan starts to hilariously unravel.

Horace, not the brightest either, chooses Arnolphe as his sole confidant to his passionate love affair. The play spends the majority of its running time following Arnolphe as he enlists the help of his two loyal idiots, Georgette and Alain, to prevent Horace and Agnès from canoodling (even though Agnès has no idea what that means. Google it, honey.)

Arnolphe’s preventive measures, which involve bricks, clubs, and beatings (Arnolphe doesn’t overreact at all of course), soon end up actually benefitting Horace. In the end, Arnolphe ends up smothered in pie. I’m not going to tell you how that happens because I want you to see it. And I’m not an idiot, I know you like sugarcoated endings (and terrible puns.)

The DTC knocked it out of the park with “The School for Wives.” The script was solid. The physical comedy was uproarious. The actors were brilliant. Everything just worked. Chamblee Ferguson led the cast as Arnolphe and handled the comedy and immense amount of dialogue with advanced skill.

Liz Mikel (Georgette) and Chris Hury (Alain) had the crowd rolling with their idiotic antics. Daniel Duque-Estrada brought a suaveness and charming air to Horace and was a unique choice for the part. Last but certainly not least, SMU’s own Morgan Lauré, took the stage as Agnès. Her personality and skill brought Agnès to life, and I actually believed she was hilariously incompetent for two hours. Well done, guys.

Let’s recap. “The School for Wives” brings us a few idiots running rampant all over the stage, failed romantic ventures, pie fights, two butlers who don’t even have enough sense to make it through a door, a likeable old pervert, and a hot girl locked in a house saved by some really uneducated version of Prince Charming. In other words, this play brings us comedic gold. I know I had you at Moliere (a.k.a. pie.)

Go catch “The School for Wives” at Kalita Humphreys Theater, which ends its run March 29. Tickets are on sale at dallastheatercenter.org.

Be prepared to laugh, potentially get sprinkled with a delectable dessert, and watch another man fail to understand the female species. Basically, “The School for Wives” has a lot in common with a college party. Sorry not sorry.

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