The Imaginary Invalid
Directed by Claude Stratz
Le Malade imaginaire
2014-06-03 00:00:00 2014-07-20 00:00:00
Argan is surrounded by a court of corrupt and ignorant doctors who take advantage of his weaknesses, more concerned with pleasing him than his health.
This imaginary invalid is also under the thumb of his second wife, Béline – with a conniving notary in tow – who, while pretending to be full of caring devotion, conceals the hope of inheriting as soon as possible. The unfortunate hypochondriac, obsessed by his neuroses, is a tyrannical father and wishes to marry his daughter Angélique to the nephew of Purgon, his doctor. However she is in love with the young Cléante and resists her father, even if it means being sent to a convent. The odious stepmother Béline further fuels the conflict. It takes the tenacity and wiles of the maid Toinette for the masks to fall. Certain characters’ sincerity finally appears in the light of day while others, forgers of love and science, are denounced. Premiered at the height of carnival, the play ends with Argan’s admittance into the order of medicine, the ultimate parody in which Molière transcribes into “bog Latin” the speeches given during receptions at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.
Molière, the authorThe Imaginary Invalid depicts a patient of surprising vitality whereas Molière was to succumb practically on stage, on the night of the fourth performance, 17 February 1673, concealing the pain of his convulsions from the public through comical grimaces. While the quackery of doctors is a favourite theme of the author, it is medical science itself that is attacked in this satirical farce, coupled with a dark and lucid meditation on the fear of death. Written by a weakened Molière, a victim of Lully’s intrigues, in royal disgrace and despondent following the death of his son and his lifelong friend Madeleine Béjart, his last play is nonetheless one of his most brilliant comedies – as if he had gathered all the resources of his genius to reach the summit of his art.
Claude Stratz, the director
A major director and an astute teacher, Claude Stratz passed away in April 2007. After making his debut alongside Patrice Chéreau at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, he was artistic director of the Comédie de Génève for ten years and then director of the Geneva School of Drama. In 2001 he directed this new production of The Imaginary Invalid which was hugely successful. The same year he was appointed director of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art in Paris. His bare staging restores the infinite hues of this “twilight comedy” where comedy and tragedy are closely linked. In collaboration with the composer Marc-Olivier Dupin, he celebrates the excellence of this comedy-ballet. This production has been regularly revived since its premiere in 2001 and in the autumn of 2011 toured in Asia.
2:15 WITHOUT INTERMISSION
Direction: Claude Stratz
Direction assistant: Marie-Pierre Héritier
Sets and costumes: Ezio Toffolutti
Sets assistant: Angélique Pfeiffer
Lights: Jean-Philippe Roy
Original soundtrack: Marc-Olivier Dupin
Choreography: Sophie Mayer
Make-up, wigs and prosthesis: Kuno Schlegelmilch
Make-up and prosthesis assistant: Elisabeth Doucet and Laurence Aué
Ava Felberbaum: Louison (alternately)
Lou Malek-Brière****: Louison (alternately)
Jeannette Veyssière****: Louison (alternately)
Nathalie Macé: Polichinelle
Camille Turlot: Polichinelle
Carole Ségura-Kremer: Soprano
Valérie Wuillème: Alto (alternately)
Cornélia Schmid****: Alto (alternately)
Laurent Bourdeaux****: Bass (alternately)
Christophe Grapperon****: Bass (alternately)
Christophe Ferveur: Tenor
Jorris Sauquet: Harpsichord
Claire Gobillard****: Viola da Gamba (alternately)
Marion Martineau: Viola da Gamba (alternately)
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