When the great French satirist Molière wrote Tartuffe, about a con artist who disguises himself as a religious man, in 1664, he so outraged the Catholic Church that the Archbishop of Paris threatened anyone who watched or performed the play with excommunication. Members of the French upper crust, too, protested the fact that the character taken for a ride was one of their own. Molière had to rewrite the play twice before he came up with a version that remained uncensored and could be published. Because his themes of religious hypocrisy and powerful idiots endure, that version remains a popular production to this day. Before Jon Stewart was on the air offering up his own brand of sometimes silly, sometimes tragic social commentary, this play stuck a commedia dell’arte mask on the crooks and liars and sent them sailing across a stage. To ring in the summer, Shakespeare Theatre Company presents the play with a Tartuffe who appears in black leather. The action should be accordingly steamy. The play runs June 2 to July 5 at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. $20–$110. (202) 547-1122. shakespearetheatre.org.