I missed another-blog-day because I had another full day at Stratford; The Hypochondriac aka Le Malade Imaginaire by Molière (1622-1673). By my count it’s the fourth time in Stratford’s history that this play was produced. I think I saw two of the previous three but there were many things I don’t remember plus many things that weren’t in the other shows because of the new adaptation by British playwright (and one-time stand-up comedian), Richard Bean, perhaps known to National Theatre Tv-screen viewers for One Man, Two Guvners.  I enjoyed lots of things, including delightful staged romps by, according to the program, “Members of La Troupe de Molière”, 15 performers plus a juggler (Doug DeForrest), choreographed by Stephen Cora, the entire charming production directed  by Antoni Cimolino. 

Molière called his later plays comédies-ballets as they involved actors and dancers in performances that were integral or at least related to the plots. (Louis XIV liked musicals.)  So what we were treated to was not a departure from tradition but Stratford’s own extravagant  spin.  I was surprised by the ending  of the show, not in the original script (I reread it) but not unprecedented, and not original to Richard Bean. John Wood (b. 1900, haven’t found his death date) translated many of Moliere’s plays and he added a credible if dramatically tragic conclusion to The Hypochondriac, used by Richard Bean.   It’s not a huge reach.  Molière suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and was very ill.  He gave a realistic portrayal of Argan, the imaginary invalid, and, in fact, collapsed in the fourth show and died shortly thereafter.  So- it’s a spoiler if you haven’t guessed  the realistic conclusion of the play. It’s well handled at Stratford and takes nothing away from the feel-good enjoyment of the production.  I had a lovely afternoon.

But I’m still tired so that’s all I’m going to say about that.  I’m a blogger not a reviewer.  Oh, but I should mention Brigit Wilson who plays Toinette, the in-your-face maidservant who mocks Argan.  She is charming, brash, daring and funny and earned her stand-up ovation every bit as much as Stephen Ouimette (Argan). She also happens to be Antoni Cimolino’s wife.  Cheers.

Now to bed.