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Theater 34.1 (2004) 10-59



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The Imaginary Invalid

Molière

Translated and Adapted by James Magruder



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Figure 1
Raye Birk as Argan in the world premiere of James Magruder's adaptation of The Imaginary Invalid, directed by Mark Rucker, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1999. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

[End Page 10]

CHARACTERS

ARGAN, the imaginary invalid
TOINETTE, his servant
ANGÉLIQUE, his daughter
BÉLINE, his second wife
BONNEFOI, a notary
CLÉANTE, in love with Angélique
DR. DIAFOIRUS
THOMAS DIAFOIRUS, his son
LOUISE, Argan's younger daughter
BÉRALDE, brother to Argan
MONSIEUR FlEURANT, an apothecary
DR. PURGON
THE PRESIDENT, a doctor

ADDITIONAL CAST FOR THE PROLOGUE AND INTERLUDES

A SHEPHERDESS, SATYRS, POLICHINELLE, ZERBINETTA, A NORWEGIAN, NIGHT WATCHMEN, HAREM GIRLS, GANESHES, DOCTORS, APOTHECARIES, HILLARY CLINTON, SHOWGIRLS

Setting: A private chamber in the home of ARGAN. Paris.

Translator's Note: The Imaginary Invalid can be safely performed without the prologue and the first and second interludes and the "Hillary" portion of the third interlude. It's just not as fun that way. [End Page 11]

Prologue

A SHEPHERDESS is discovered in a pastoral setting. Two SATYRS gambol and gather about her to hear her plaintive song.

SHEPHERDESS The great heap of your wisdom is only a guess,
O vain and unwise physicians,
You cannot cure with your fine Latin words
The source of my pain and distress;
The great heap of your wisdom is only a guess.

Alas—I dare not reveal
The depth of my sadness:
For a shepherd I pine
One who will not be mine.
His rejection eclipses all powers to heal.
You ignorant doctors—own up and confess
The great heap of your wisdom is only a guess.

Your remedies trusted by peasants and louts
Are useless, useless to me.
Torment ... torment ... torment has driven me to despair.
The babble, the drivel pouring down from your spouts
Is gold for the man whose malady is imaginaire,
But nothing ... nothing for me.
The great heap of your wisdom is only a guess.

As she finishes, there is a tremendous farting noise. It is loud enough to blow down the flat and scare the SATYRS away, leaving the SHEPHERDESS to indicate to the audience, as best she can as she exits, that she was not the culprit.

End of prologue.

ACT 1

ARGAN emerges from his upstage water closet—he was the culprit—and sits in his chair to calculate his medical bills.

ARGAN Three and two make five, plus five is ten, and ten makes twenty. "Item: on the twenty-fourth, an insinuating preparatory anal injection to soften, moisten, and refresh Monsieur's bowels." What I like about my apothecary Monsieur Fleurant is that his bills are expressed with such refinement. " ... and refresh Monsieur's bowels ... thirty sous." Well Fleurant, it's one thing to be refined, it's another to gouge the sick. Thirty sous for an enema! Much obliged, but not that much—he charged me twenty for all the others; and, taking standard druggist's markup, twenty really means ten. There you are, ten sous. "Item: on the same day, a humor-purging double-strength suppository confected from rhubarb, rose-infused honey, etcetera, to sweep, irrigate, and reeducate Monsieur's lower intestine, thirty sous." I'll give you ten. "Item: that night, a soporific, narcotic, and hepatic julep compounded to induce sleep, thirty-five sous." No complaints there, it knocked me right out. So that's ten, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and a half sous. "Item: the twenty-fifth, a laxative, made of fresh cassia and bay rum, et cetera, according to Doctor Purgon's prescription, to evacuate Monsieur's bile, four francs." Purgon never told you to charge four francs. Let's do three. Twenty and thirty sous. "Item: the twenty-sixth, a flatulatinacious injection to release Monsieur's ill winds, thirty sous." Ten sous for that, Fleurant—I almost burned a hole in the bedspread. "Item: the twenty-seventh, a strong medicine composed to hasten the production of 'number two'—ooh, such delicacy—and to extradite the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-196X
Print ISSN
0161-0775
Pages
pp. 10-59
Launched on MUSE
2004-03-19
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2005
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