“The Imaginary Invalid” Delights SMC SMC Audience With Laughs and Lessons in Love
Adaptation by Oded Gross and Tracy Young
Directed by Reid Davis
Who would have thought a hypochondriac, music, vomit and bear wrestling would all fit wonderfully on a stage? The Saint Mary’s cast of “The Imaginary Invalid” did a superb job entertaining a crowd of about 50 during opening night on April 18. The audience, decked out in 1960s garb, brought the hippie style to the theater and left in high spirits after watching the play, which was adapted from the work of the great French master of comedy, Molière, and directed by Reid Davis of the Performing Arts Department.
The playful costumes, charming stage design and clever use of sound and lighting combined perfectly with outstanding student performances and made the opening night a fitting way to welcome spring, with lots of laughs and loving.
Argan, played by Liam Callister, is the intolerable father of two ready-to-wed daughters. He schemes his way into free healthcare for the treatment of his never-ending list of fabricated symptoms at the expense of his daughter’s dream of marrying the love of her life. Add some outlandish characters, from a sassy servant to a deaf mute musician and a nun-turned-gold digger, and you have a recipe for a fun-filled night of laughter and drama.
Argan, a hypochondriac, spends his time “too busy trying to stay alive” instead of living life to the fullest until, overcome with the power of love, he comes to terms with his past and awakens after years of desolation. Callister and Caitlin Arndt, as a servant named Toinette, worked exceptionally well together to set the tone of the play with their comic talent and ability to reveal to the audience the greater themes of the play hidden beneath the comedy, such as healthcare reform, greed and the search for purpose in life.
Callister and Arndt were ably supported by a long list of quirky characters. The very funny Kathleen Esling, Oliver Reyes, Joseph Kink and Matt Pieri were among the actors who evoked the most laughs from the audience.
Davis saw the adaptation of the play last summer and “immediately fell in love,” he said. Having closely followed the co-adapter Oded Gross for years. he knew the “lively, quirky and tuneful adaptation”’ would be a “perfect vehicle” for his students.
Davis was exactly right. His students showed a commitment to energizing the material with over-the-top gestures, facial expressions and compelling delivery that made the characters irresistible. You may come to “The Imaginary Invalid” for the laughs, but you’ll leave with the powerful message: “All we have is now.”
By Liset Puentes ’15
Photo by Michael Cook
Performances are scheduled for April 18, 19, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m., plus 2 p.m. matinees on April 21 and 22.
Buy tickets online or at the door.