Comedy with a Point
"The Imaginary Invalid" was the final play by the legendary French writer Molière. In the centuries since his death, he has gone on to be considered one of the greatest writers in the French language and the creator of modern French comedy. His signature genre was comedy, especially those with a farcical tone and satirical edge. Most of these plays, including "The Imaginary Invalid," would showcase how people in power are corruptible and capable of using their station as a means of inflicting harm on others. He was known for punching up.
Molière’s work lives on in literature classes and educational and professional theatre companies around the world – including at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which produced this new adaptation of "The Imaginary Invalid" in 2011. Adapted by playwright Oded Gross, director Tracy Young, and composer Paul James Prendergast, this retelling maintains the original play’s bite and over-the-top tone while updating the language and transposing the setting in the 1960s.
We could all use a good laugh. A lot has happened in the years since this adaptation premiered in 2011, but this story has been making audiences laugh for about 350 years now. It’s tried and true. Don’t mistake comedy for a lack of a point, though: as playwright C. Meaker noted in their review of the play, instead of focusing primarily on social hierarchy, this adaptation “instead focuses on how to live life.” Life is a beautiful thing, even with its hardships. It’s a cliché, but there may be something to it: regardless of what ails you, laughter may just be the best medicine.
By Elliott Folds, dramaturg
MFA candidate, U of I Theatre Arts
Published February 2023
"The Imaginary Invalid"
- Adapted by Oded Gross & Tracy Young
- Original Lyrics by Oded Gross, Paul James Prendergast and Tracy Young
- Original Music by Paul James Prendergast
- Directed by David Lee-Painter
- View program
Show Times & Dates
- 7:30 p.m., March 3, 4, 10, 11, 2023
- 2:00 p.m., March 5, 12, 2023
- Hartung Theatre, 625 Stadium Drive, Moscow