The Hypochondriac

written by

Mehmet Izbudak (after Molière)

directed by

Mehmet Izbudak

performed at

Wimbledon Studio Theatre

7 - 11 November 2000

The Hypochondriac Poster

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Programme Notes

from the Director

Molière (1622-1673)

Molière is the stage and pen name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest dramatists and innovators in the history of the stage. A son of an upholsterer to the French Royal household, he was trained as a lawyer, but soon afterwards he turned to the stage and acting. At first he spent thirteen years (from 1645 until 1658) touring the provinces with his own theatre company. During that period not only did he gain a reputation as an actor and director, but also as a playwright. He came to Paris and became one of Louis XIV's favourite dramatic authors.

His private life was marked by domestic misfortunes; his unhappy marriage to Armande Béjart and the death of his children in infancy. He also suffered from a serious lung ailment that was to be the cause of his death in 1673, ironically enough while playing the role of Argand in The Hypochondriac .

Even though he had made many enemies through the social critique that his plays presented, Molière enjoyed the favour of the enlightened public and the king himself. In 1665 his troupe became "The King's Company". For political and religious reasons, however, royal favour was not steadfast and in 1672 Louis XVI withdrew it from Molière.

His originality lies in his movement away from the then traditional comedy towards farce and making greater theatre of it. Instead of using complicated plots as the centre of interest, Molière focused on individual characters. This genre, called character comedy, presents a spectacle of inner forces embodied in individualised characters that seek to dominate or to protect themselves with an absurd persistence. His protagonists are consequently absolute egotists who invent values, generally illusory, to satisfy their appetites. They are dupes of themselves and consequently prisoners of their own natures.

The Hypochondriac - Le Malade Imaginaire (1673)

Argand thinking that he is very ill, stuffs himself with medicine and surrounds himself with medical experts. For his own well-being, he wants his daughter Angélique to marry a grotesque doctor, Thomas Diaforus, although she is in love with Cléante. Thanks to the maid Toinette's guile and artfulness, he discovers and accepts his daughter's love for Cléante and allows them to marry, while he is made his own doctor. A satirical characature on the practice of medicine, The Hypochondriac is, above all, the portrait of a ridiculous egoist who lives in a world of illusion.

The first performance of The Hypochondriac was at the Palais Royale on 10th February, 1673. Molière played Argand, and his wife played Angélique. On 17th February, during the fourth performance, Molère was taken ill and died the same evening.

The Present Adaptation

Molière's social critique of the medical profession and general human attitude towards health and medicine is brought up to date in this adaptation of his masterpiece The Hypochondriac (Le Malade Imaginare) . Certain characters like Madame Teste, the psychiatrist have been added to the play while others such as Monsieur Fleurant, the apothecary, have been dropped. References to music, society, and the sciences, have been made contemporary. All in all, the plot and structure remain more or less unchanged, while the language and contect have been updated.

Mehmet Izbudak, May 2003

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in no particular order

Argand ~ Dave O'Sullivan
Toinette ~ Kate Mitchell
Angélique ~ Debbie Fowler
Dr. Pessary ~ Andrew Smith
Beline ~ Annette Piper
Mr. Bonnefoy ~ Jeff 'Tiger' Graves
Cléante ~ John Gargrave
Mr. Diaforus ~ James Grayston
Thomas Diaforus ~ Charles Bertram
Jean-Paul Leach ~ Adam Cain
Louison ~ Emma Owen
Bélarde ~ Matthew Petty
Dr Purgon ~ Michael Ahmad
Madame Teste ~ Val Foskett

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in no particular order

Director ~ Mehmet C. Izbudak
Stage Management ~ Cindy Graves
Assistant Stage Management ~ Emma Owen
Set and Props Construction ~ Mike Tierney
Elizabeth Hawes
Lighting design ~ Sarah Hewitt
Lighting operation ~ Alison Raffan
Sound and visual effects ~ Simon Harris
Front of House ~ Penny Stone & friends
Artwork ~ Mehmet C. Izbudak
Publicity ~ Kristen Bowditch
James Derbyshire

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The Hypochondriac's Photo Album

Really poor photographs © 2000 Matthew Petty

Photo - p01

Argand - the hypochondriac in person - sits miserably in his wheelchair.

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Angélique, his daughter waxes lyrical about Cléante, the love of her life.

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Angélique talks to her father about marriage - they both talk with some enthusiasm until they realise they both had different husbandsin mind!

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It's time for Argand's injection. Dr. Pessary arrives to administer the treatment.

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Beline, Argand's 'faithful' wife appears to discuss the making of a will.

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But Mr. Bonneyfoy, her legal advisor, persuades Argand that a will would not be possible (indeed, he goes so far as to suggest that it would not be legal for Argand to leave his possessions to his wife!) - instead he arranges that Argand should give his wife a gift of his possessions now, instead of when he's dead!

Photo - p12

When he thinks the coast's clear, Cléante creeps in, only to be confronted by Toinette, the maid. They hatch a plan to let Cléante see his love, Angélique.

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Angélique is amazed to see him. Cléante has been introduced as her music tutor.

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Argand's choice of suitor for Angélique arrives to be introduced to her - Thomas Diaforus, along with his father and friend - Jean-Paul Leach.

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After a certain amount of 'Humbler than thou' has gone on between Mr. Diaforus the elder and Argand, Mr. Diaforus is left speechless!

Photo - p22

Thomas Diaforus, aided and abetted by his friend Jean-Paul Leach, attempts to woo Angélique with an offer of a visit to his laboratory to dissect animals.

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Much later, Argand is suspicuous of events, and interrogates his other daughter, Louison, to find out what's been going on with Angélique.

Photo - p26

After she refuses to tell, he threatens her with the nunnery! She feigns a faint, and in an unexpected show of strength, Argand gets out of his chair to help her up.

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Argand's brother Bélarde arrives to try and prevent her from marrying Thomas Diaforus

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Dr. Purgon comes in with news of a new 'innoculation' for Argand.

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Dr. Pessary arrives with the hypodermic to actualise the insertion.

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Bélarde grabs the syringe and menaces the doctors with it

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On their way out, the doctors threaten Bélarde will be hearing from both their solicitors!

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Immediately after, the psychiatrist, Madame Teste arrives

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During a word-association test, Bélarde's responses become menacing and he frightens her off

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Toinette, the maid, puts 'special glasses' that Madame Teste has recommended onto Argand. She has news of a new doctor who will be arriving shortly.

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The new 'doctor' arrives. Amazingly, she looks just like Toinette! She pooh-poohs all the other doctors' diagnoses and treatments, and suggests he only see doctors on her specially approved list.

The doctor disappears, and Toinette reappears. With Bélarde they plan a test to see how faithful Béline and Angélique really are. Bélarde has bought Argand a medical degree, and as a result, Angélique gets to marry Cléante, Argand gets to write his own prescriptions and they live happily ever after.

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