DYING TO BE SICK by Molière, translated by Adrienne Clarkson and John Van Burek, directed by Brendan Healy (Pleiades). At Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). To November 4. Pwyc-$35. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNN
For some people, strangely, feeling ill is tantamount to being happy.
Take Argan, the perpetually under-the-weather central figure in Dying To Be Sick . He's only content when he's spewing phlegm, having an enema or being diagnosed with a multi-syllabic disease. And he's very funny.
Laughs figure prominently in this new translation of Molière 's Le Malade Imaginaire by Adrienne Clarkson and John Van Burek , smartly directed by Brendan Healy with intentionally large and stylized performances.
But Healy includes a darker undercurrent as well. Skeletal figures pop up in the background every once in a while, and the humour is sometimes tempered by a more serious note.
Molière's satire on doctors still resonates. His physicians and apothecaries are treated as gurus, though they spout gobbledygook and look out for their own interests.
His satiric shots also aim at fortune-hunting wives and self-serving notaries. But, despite the entertaining dialogue, Molière sometimes makes his point too often.
Healy's quicksilver cast skilfully fills out the production, especially Hardy Lineham as Argan, with a wheeze that punctuates the micro-second spaces in his briskly spoken dialogue.
He's matched by Michelle Polak 's uppity, manipulative maid, Toinette, intent on providing the right husband for Argan's daughter, Angelique, and curing her master of his medical fixations. Her mocking "monsieur" (pronounced "misyooo,") regularly drags the final nasal syllable out as a sneer.
The others are mostly fine, especially Stéphanie Broschart as a wide-eyed doe-in-the-headlights Angelique, Victor Ertmanis as Argan's rational brother and Dov Mickelson and Alex Poch-Goldin playing various medical men as impressed with themselves as Argan is with them. Poch-Goldin shines as Thomas, Argan's marital choice for Angelique, a socially inept boy-man who outgrew his clothes years ago.
Teresa Przybylski 's striking white set changes tone gorgeously under Glenn Davidson 's bright-coloured lights, while Dana Osborne 's white, black and grey costumes are delightful flights of fantasy, especially the physicians' Medusa-like headgear.
Go and laugh.