Two Moliére Classics with a Comedia Dell’ Arte Twist
Noted actor René Auberjonois read many a translation of The Imaginary Invalid in preparation for playing the role of Argan, and dubbed this his favorite version.
The Imaginary Invalid
Translated by Arne Zaslove and K.C. Brown
The Imaginary Invalid is a new translation of Molière Le Malade Imaginaire. It was Moliere’s last comic work, and legend has it that he died onstage, playing the central character of Argan.
Wealthy Argan has an exaggerated faith in doctors, and an endless series of imaginary illnesses. He is prepared to fritter away his fortune, and offer his daughter in a loveless match, joining her to a member of a medical family. Finally, his clever servant girl Toinette, impersonating a maniacal physician, fools him into finding some common sense – and becoming a doctor himself.
The epilogue features a hilarious chorus of doctors, musically conferring a bogus degree on Argan.
The Doctor in Spite of Himself
Translated by Arne Zaslove
Sganarelle is a lazy scoundrel, and content to be so, until his wife Martine plays a trick on him and he becomes a doctor – in spite of himself! Impersonating a learned physician is rocky at first, but getting paid for fake cures helps Sganarelle come to enjoy the role. Saucy fun with a buxom wet nurse, and saving a lovelorn young woman from an unwelcome marriage, are also perks of the job.
Arne Zaslove is a master of Commedia dell’ Arte, and this version includes his lazzi, or physical gags, from the premiere production of this new translation.