Theatre Mirror Review>"The Imaginary Invalid"

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"The Imaginary Invalid"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Providence College Theatre's opening show of their season is "The Imaginary Invalid" by Moliere. This 17th century comedy gets a fresh dressing in this raucous translation by Miles Malleson. "The Imaginary Invalid" is about Argan, a famous hypochondriac who not only complains about a million imaginary ills, but about his astronomical medical bills. If he marries his daughter to a medical man, he assumes he will have free medical care. Argan chooses a numbskull, Thomas, without consulting his daughter, Angelique who is engaged to another. The maid, Toinette, with Argan's sister, Beralde, exposes the doctor as a charlatan and reveals to her master that his second wife, Beline, is only after his money. Thus are life and love triumphant and all troubles real and imaginary relieved by laughter. Director Mary Farrell picks topnotch students to play these madcap roles and infuses them with the energy and clever shtick to entertain the audience all night long in this hilarious French farce.

The beautiful two story unit set is by Kathryn Kawecki while the multitude of gorgeous and exquisite costumes are by David Costa-Cabral. Playing the lead role of Argan is Brian Kozak who is onstage alone during a long segment near the start of the show. He is dressed long johns and a nightgown, looking like Scrooge. delivers his long monologue splendidly, giving depth to the character. He is a hoot and is reminiscent of Lou Costello as this wild and crazy man. He also gobbles down tons of pills and has every ailment known to mankind.Brian delivers the goods as Argan who finally realizes the doctors and his wife are in it for their monetary gain.

Argan's sister, Beralde is wonderfully played by Diane LaMattina. Her sage advice is that one should take care of their own health and not depend heavily on the advice of quack doctors. Katcy Stephan makes Toinette, a wise,cynical and capable servant sees through the facade of these quacks. She commands the stage in this role and at first pretends she broke her ankle rushing to her master. Toinette insists that Angelique marry her boyfriend and not the idiot doctor that her father has chosen for her. Toinette's final test between Beline and Angelique proves who really loves Argan after all. Her antics as the doctor and the maid simultaneously is hilarious. Angelique and her boyfriend, Cleante are marvelously played by Katrina Pavao and Thomas Aviles. They have a very funny scene where they declare their love for each other while they sing a very comic song. Katrina also choreographed the final ceremony where Argan becomes a doctor. They first do a minuet, then the twist and then it becomes a rap like song and dance.

The gold digger trophy wife is well played by statuesque, Mary Regan. She makes her into a cunning and devious woman. Her comic glances at the audience while her husband expresses his love for enemas are hilarious. Her cohort in crime, the shifty lawyer is wonderfully played by Jonathan Coppe. Argan's youngest daughter Louise is well played by Joey Macari. She dances around the stage with her stuffed dog and is a little off center. The two biggest scene stealers in this farce are Ben Williams as Dr. Diafoirus who is as mad as a hatter and Patrick Rogers as his nerdlike son Thomas is even dumber than his father. Some of their funny antics include the father with an eye patch and the son with eyeglasses and an hysterical speech impediment, sounding like Elmer Fudd. Rounding out the cast are Courtney Olenzak as the apothecary with a giant enema needle and Dean Scotti as Dr. Purgon who disowns Argan for refusing the enema.So the adage that laughter is the best medicine applies when viewing this farce. Be sure to catch "The Imaginary Invalid" because it will keep you in stitches from start to finish. Tell them Tony prescribed it to cure what ails you.

"The Imaginary Invalid" (31 October - 9 November)
@ Angells Blackfriar Theatre, River Avenue, PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide