“The anti-intellectual and anti-scientific leanings of anti-vaxxers and homeopaths can have very serious consequences, and the rise of this movement means The Hypochondriac could have a very sharp contemporary resonance. But it seems that both Bean and Cimolino are as preoccupied with Argan’s rectum as Argan himself is. That said, a play like The Hypochondriac really makes the repertory nature of the Stratford Festival shine”
Deliciously crass and extravagantly opulent…Ouimette is a rubber-faced hoot as Argan. Watching his face pirouette as he struggles to down a beaker of his own urine (on doctor’s instructions of course) or as he is administered an onstage anal irrigation has to be seen to be appreciated. (I know how repulsive this sounds!)
From the Stratford Festival’s current production of Molière’s Le Malade imaginaire, adapted as The Hypochondriac by Richard Bean, you really would have no idea why Molière is one of the world’s greatest writers of comedy and why this is one of his greatest works…People who are interested in seeing The Hypocrite because they love Molière should be warned that they will not be seeing a play filled with Molière’s wit so much as a version dumbed down to Richard Bean’s puerile sense of humour.
In this version of the production, audiences are treated to a play-within-a-play, where we first see Moliere’s troupe of actors and dancers preparing for a performance and getting excited to perform in front of of Sanjay Talwar’s Louis XIV. This also allows for a clever ending that still mirrors the end of the original play, but also gets to mirror history.
For those of who bemoan the state of culture in the 21st century, Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino always programs one play each season to remind us that it was ever thus, that bawdy, body-based humour was around long before YouTube or Amy Schumer…You’re either going to love Ouimette’s deliciously deadpan delivery of bedpan jokes, or you’re going to find the whole thing a bit cheap (as many of Molière’s critics of the day did).
Embracing both the wit and vulgarity of Moliere’s great satire, Cimolino’s Stratford Festival production revels in its exaggerations while giving a self-reflexive wink to the audience…With The Hypochondriac, Cimolino and his cast and crew have staged another late-season comedic tour-de-force, both celebrating and ridiculing the absurdity of our most common foibles.