Screamingly funny Molière

Argan (Tony Turner) and wife (Jordan Best).

“The Imaginary Invalid”
By Molière, directed by Jordan Best, Courtyard Studio until May 14.
Reviewed by Helen Musa

 

TONY Turner holds centre stage as the hypochondriac Argan in this very modern production of a great French classic.

In a quiet, restrained performance, he shows us both the humanity and the absurdity in Molière’s last stage role. You can believe in him as a loving father, but at the same time a deluded man.

Revolving around Argan is a world of commedia dell’arte and slapstick and the assortment of pompous doctors, infatuated lovers and scheming connivers work their way through a jungle of rhyming couplets.

On the clever side is Erin Pugh in her best performance ever as Toinette the eccentric servant. But comic actor Jim Adamik, who has long made pompous stupidity his trademark, comes close to stealing the whole show in his brief appearance as Monsieur Purgon, the physician.  It all makes for a screamingly funny night.

An endearing feature of this production,  played out on Cate Clelland’s wacky set and in detailed costumes by Emma Sekuless, is the sheer joy of the actors, especially Kiki Skountzos and Riley Bell as the young lovers Angélique and Cléante.

In a remarkable show of strength, director Jordan Best has stepped on to the  stage as Argan’s hypocritical second wife Béline, replacing at short notice Helen Brajkovic, whose untimely death has shocked the Canberra theatre community and who will be remembered as one of this city’s  finest serious performers.

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