The Hypochondriac

Le malade imaginaire, a 1673 comedy-ballet by Molière, is currently touring the country in a version by Richard Bean and Richard Thomas, under the title The Hypochondriac. The production keeps the time period of the original but adds in a number of smutty but funny songs, including “Germs Are in the Air,” “Where Would Be Without Drugs?” and “Blood in my Poo”. This isn’t one for the faint-hearted or the squeamish.

The play centres around Argan, portrayed with gusto by Tony Robinson, a wealthy but miserly hypochondriac hoping to marry his daughter Angelique off to a doctor in order to have a physician on-hand at all times. She’s having none of it, however, hoping to wed the somewhat less wealthy Cléante, while Argan’s young wife Beline keeps trying to send Angelique to a nunnery so that she herself will inherit Argan’s wealth.

The satire pokes fun at miserliness and the medical profession; the show is peopled with quacks and bizarre remedies. It’s funny, but often crude, and though the satire is often apt, the plot sometimes becomes slightly tedious. Not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but entertaining enough.

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