Play Review : the Imaginary Invalid.

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Play Review : The Imaginary Invalid .

by Moliere, ADAPTED BY Sabin Epstein

Upon entering the theater, my initial reactions were all positive as I took in the scene, my eyes shifting around the surroundings. The theater was a little smoky and mysterious looking; there were interesting props on the stage (like a candle chandelier, a chrome walker, and a contraption of various sized bottles containing florescent yellow and red liquid with tubes attached throughout) that I found stimulating to look at and wonder about. When the lights went down and the play began, I was excited to see what purpose was behind the smoky environment and the curious props. Up to the end of the production, that excitement (accompanied by times of surprise and empathy) was sustained because of the comical nature of the play.

The opening scene with the dark bodies and illuminated faces was a little confusing. I was not sure how having the actors lurking around the stage and audience, with creepy, tingly music and sounds being played in the meantime, related to the play. Besides this scene, though, the plot and structure of the play was made clear due to the comprehensibility of the dialogue and the ease at which the plot could be followed. Many of the scenes aroused the audience to some form of response, more often laughter than others, but surprise and empathy were prominent as well. In the first scene that Argan, a hypochondriac (the imaginary invalid), was introduced, there was a plethora of giggles and grins from the audience as he sorted through his doctor's bills and spoke of enemas. In the scenes with Angelique, Argan's daughter, empathy was felt for her while she struggled to be with her love, Cleante. Many of the scenes had shocking or surprising elements, but the most shocking of all was when Argan's doctor came to visit him after hearing the news that Argan was not abiding to his prescriptions. The scene was outrageous; the doctor's speech was very loud and exaggerated, as was his wardrobe, and there was an added element of absurdity with saliva spewing this way and that out of the doctor's mouth as he shouted at Argan. Because the play was filled with scenes of this nature and because most of the play was a little outrageous, it was effective in arousing audience response and captivating my interest throughout the performance.
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In order to successfully express emotions and ideas, the actors used body movements, voice, and facial expressions wonderfully. A perfect example of one actor utilizing all three would be the character of Thomas Diafoirus. Just out of schooling to become a doctor, Thomas reflects a goofy, savage-like facial expression. He is presented to the audience like an animal also through his slouching and savage-like mannerisms, not to mention the fact that his father would crack a whip on him at any given hint of misbehavior. Thomas is not at all a man who Angelique wants to marry, and ...

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