The Doctor in Spite of Himself at the Drayton Arms
Rock and roll Moliere at the Drayton Arms Theatre. In a contemporary version of the playwright’s rarely performed play, The Doctor in Spite of Himself (Le Medecin Malgre Lui) is presented by the acclaimed French company, Exchange Theatre, as part of the Bastille Festival 2016.
The comedic genius of Moliere – his works are classics studied in French lycees – is here transformed from a 17th century farce to a modern theatrical adaptation, complete with rock, pop and hip hop music and audience interaction. Directed by David Furlong (also in the lead role) and enacted in both English and French (here in English), its producer, Exchange Theatre, is an international company in London specialising in uncommon or obscure French works translated into English.
Opening with vibrant music and a scene right out of a rock musical, The Doctor in Spite of Himself is the story of Sganarelle (Furlong), a gambler and a drunk who violently fights with and beats his wife, subsequently suffering consequences. His wife concocts a plan, spreading the word that her husband is actually a brilliant physician – “You are the greatest doctor in the world.” – who will not admit he is such unless he is physically beaten. He does not want to be a doctor, but is thrashed and bullied until he agrees. Sought after to cure a young woman who is mute, Sganarelle hilariously charms and flirts with her mother (Yanouchka Wenger Sabbatini) and the nurse (Fanny Dulin), spouting gibberish, yet ultimately curing the subject using common sense: for Lucinde (Anita Adam Gabay) is mute because her mother insists she marry a man she does not love instead of her beloved.
With excellent performances by the cast, and masterful comedic style, Exchange Theatre’s version of Moliere is clever, very funny and well adapted for contemporary audiences. As is often seen lately in theatre, players interact with viewers, asking “who are these people” and at times become part of the audience. Likewise, performers adjust the set, which here is artful, simple and effective.
A highly entertaining piece, The Doctor in Spite of Himself is particularly interesting viewing for lovers of Moliere and French theatre.
The Doctor in Spite of Himself is on at the Drayton Arms from 21st June until 13th July 2016, for further information or to book visit here.