Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
by Molière, adapted by Roger McGough
Tue 15 - Sat 19 October 2013 at 7.30pm
The Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton Map >
CAST & CREW
Argan John Myhill
Beline Patricia Coleman
Angelique Hannah Burt
Cleante Lewis Marks
Beralde Ian Tuckley
Toinette Ruth Sherry
Bonnefoi Joe B Humbled
Diafoirus Owen Warr
Thomas Diafoirus Alistair Way
Purgeon Joe B Humbled
Fleurant Joe B Humbled
Director Matthew Fell
Stage Manager Jo Molyneux
Sound & Lighting Phillip Welsh, Josh Judd
Costumes Claire Brittain, The Works
Set Mark Mortimer
Music Ian Spiby
Photography Joe Brown
Front of House Masque Theatre members
Matthew Fell, director
First produced in 1673 and Moliere's final play, The Hypochondriac was adapted in 2009 by Roger McGough and is a scathingly funny lampoon on both hypochondria and the 'quack' medical profession.
Argan (played by John Myhill) is a perfectly healthy, wealthy gentleman, convinced that he is seriously ill. So obsessed is he with medicinal tinkerings and tonics that he is blind to the goings on in his own household namely the scheming of his second wife, Beline (played by Patricia Coleman) and the flowering love affair between his daughter Angelique and her suiter Cleante (played respectively by Hannah Burt and Lewis Marks, both most recently seen in All’s Well That Ends Well).
However, his most efficacious cure will not appear in a bottle or a bed pan, but in his sharp-tongued servant Toinette (played by Masque debutant Ruth Sherry), who has a cunning plan to reveal the truth and open her master's eyes.
Other Masque members appearing in the production are Owen Warr and Alistair Way as Dr Diafoirus and his son Thomas respectively; Ian Tuckley as Argan’s brother Beralde and Joe B Humbled once more playing a variety of characters in the form of the notary Bonnefoi and doctors Purgeon and Fleurent.
As an historical side note (and knowingly referenced within McGough’s version) Moliere (who much like Shakespeare was also an actor as well as a playwright) himself performed the part of Argan in the original run of the production, albeit this was to be a short engagement. The reason The Hyprochondriac was Moliere’s final work was that he collapsed and died during the fourth night’s performance of the play.
We sincerely hope our production will not have quite such dramatic effect on either members of the cast or audience and albeit if you come along you will be treated to a very funny (efficacious in every case) adaptation of a classic work of theatre.
I was not expecting to be able to watch The Hypochondriac – I went down to do the bar but my fellow barman Tony Janney kindly let me go in and watch while he did the washing up. So I watched with no preconceptions, and I’d like to congratulate Matthew, his cast and crew for what turned out to be a hoot.
The plain staging with just the right number of doors made the most of the bijou Playhouse stage, and the fact that there was only one chair emphasised the self-imposed isolation of the titular character and also helped to keep the comings and goings slick.
I feared initially that the rhyming couplets would start to grate, but Roger McGough knows what he’s doing, and played about with the form, well, playfully, remaining true to Moliere’s original while adding idioms and doubles entendres appropriate to our ears (I’m not sure if the extended fart with which the play began was in the script or added by Matthew, but it got the audience going and set the appropriate alimentary tone for what was to follow).
Nonetheless, it could still have fallen rather flat if the cast had been anywhere near mediocre. This was not a play for subtle acting, but the cast went for it with the necessary pace and gusto without resorting to pantomiming, and they knew when McGough was being ironic with the rhymes. I thought everyone was just right and hope they could all feel the warmth of the audience’s reaction.
It may be bad form to pick out individuals, but I must mention two: John Myhill in the title role, whose, er, part was enormous, and who inhabited the role so well, preposterous and touching in turn, and Ruth Sherry as the pivotal ‘clever maid’ whose job it was to drive the plot forward to a happy outcome almost single-handedly – quite apart from all the lines, her range of facial expressions, energy and poise were remarkable, and I’m not even going to add ‘especially in such a young actress’. If you want a third, no one does a scheming slapper like Patricia Coleman! But as I’ve said, everyone was very very good, and it really was a hoot.
Pat Kilshaw-Brown (by email)
I just wanted to say how much my friends and I enjoyed the production tonight.
The acting and singing were superb and sent us home with smiles on our faces! Please pass on our thanks to the cast for providing such wonderful entertainment.
I'm only sorry that it's taken me so long to realise that there is such a good troupe in Northampton, but I will be frequenting your shows more often from now on.
Page last updated: 19/11/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013
John Myhill as Argan and Patricia Coleman as Beline. Photo by Joe Brown