Shakespeare was not the only playwright of the Renaissance period whose works lived on with growing popularity through the ages. The play “The Imaginary Invalid,” a masterpiece by Moliére, is about a wealthy man who believes he is gravely ill during the 1600’s while he and his family live in Paris. Even though it was first performed in 1673, the play still holds many laughs for all and is easier on the ears than Shakespeare.
Though the beginning starts a little slow, the audience is drawn into the merciless hold of a hilarious and twisting plot. Soon thereafter, the audience will find themselves on the edge of their seat, rooting for the main characters.
“This is the goofiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s pretty far from reality, so I get to be a clown,” actor Mark Robokoff said, thinking of his character Monsieur Argan and his entire situation throughout the play. “There’s been several shows that I’ve done that I really try to find some reality in there, but in this one I am completely free from that obligation.”
Essentially, the play is about the clueless Monsieur Argan, a man who believes he is gravely ill, that his second wife loves him and that his daughter Angelique (Erika Johnson) will happily go along with his marriage plans for her.
Despite the title being “The Imaginary Invalid,” Argan being the invalid, it does not center on him but rather on the frantic scheming and meddling of his maid Toinette (Tamar Bolkvadze), who is constantly working with her wit to set everything right in the troubled household.
Director Elizabeth Ware has worked tirelessly with her cast to put together the complexity of the play, with the characters ranging constantly through vibrant emotions and wild gestures that make the play engaging for all.
“This is a great group of people. They are very creative and very cooperative, nice people. I don’t like to work with actors who aren’t nice and I feel really blessed that this is a wonderful group.”
When Ware is not working around a theatre, she can be found at UAA as an adjunct professor in the communications department. Not only does she help instruct actors in giving their lines, but also teaches UAA students on public speaking.
And the lines trip off the tongues of the actors flawlessly, though sometimes the bluntness of a modern accent will leave something to be desired.
“It’s zany, wacky stuff. It’s fun to see they laughed at the same things 400 years ago that we still laugh at today,” Robokoff said, thinking on the play’s colorful plot.
Even if arranged marriages aren’t as common today, people cannot help but laugh as the characters Toinette and Angelique run circles around Argan in order to dodge an unwanted marriage.
But the play does have a matter that people can identify with today, and that is Monsieur Argan’s hypochondria. The absolute hilarity of his hundreds of faked illnesses and even more ludicrous cures has people laughing, especially when Argan’s brother, Beralde (Paul Schweigert), remarks that as of present (1673) doctors are useless, but may hold some credibility in the future.
With the ridiculous costumes, the wild hand gestures and swinging emotions, the play does promise a good time. Cyrano’s has offers a professional and fun atmosphere for all who attend its productions.