“The Imaginary Invalid” production revives 17th century humor, music

With 17th-century costumes and characters prone to bursting into song at any minute, Molière’s “The Imaginary Invalid” has made its presence known on campus. Running from March 3-11, this semester’s main stage play has swept into Fir Acres in a flurry of color and noise.

While originally written by French playwright Molière in 1673, this version of “The Imaginary Invalid” differs from the original. Director Štěpán Šimek opted to use American playwright Constance Congdon’s updated version in place of the original. However, the heart of the show and the character’s remain unchanged in their hilarity.

“The Imaginary Invalid” follows the hypochondriac Argan as he attempts to marry his young daughter Angélique off to a doctor to save on medical bills. Unbeknownst to Argan, Angélique has met a strapping young lad who she has fallen deeply in love with. As Angélique tries to avoid arranged marriage, shenanigans and chaos ensue while Argan tries to get the situation under control.

Jamie Kushnick ’26 and Tiani Erkel ’25 play what they call “The Lovers,” Cléante and Angélique. To Kushnick, this show represents the absurdity of humans.

“Every character in this show is a normal person, but the dial of emotion is cranked to a thousand,” Kushnick said. “There’s already a certain comedy in reality that we just took and displayed through a lot of physicality and movement.” 

The play features songs written by the cast, but is not a musical. Kushnick describes it as “just a bunch of schmucks singing and sometimes quite badly.” Because of the intense emotion that the characters are feeling, they are compelled to burst into song in the moment.

Cléante and Angélique’s love became an early focus for Kushnick and Erkel in the rehearsal process. 

“I just have to think about what it’s like to have a crush on someone and then my whole character is taking those emotions and being normal with them, and then taking the normal and throwing it in the garbage and replacing it with the extreme,” Kushnick said. 

The actors hope that every audience member can find something to relate to through the characters’ struggles, songs and successes. 

“At her core, Angélique just wants to be loved,” Erkel said. “For me, it’s taking the craziest thoughts you have when you’re in love and putting that on stage, or doing it aloud.” 

Despite all of its wackiness and hilarity, “The Imaginary Invalid” boils down to a play about humanity. 

“The funniest parts of the play are the parts that are so clearly human and so clearly relatable, even though they’re insane,” Erkel said. “There’s something so cool about being able to show those thoughts in a theatrical way onstage in front of an audience when we often keep them in.” 

The actors hope that every audience member can find something to relate to through the characters’ struggles, songs and successes. 

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