Comedy: Full Length.3 Acts, with interludes; Estimated Running Time 125 minutes (without intermission) 40-minute version available. Cast: 9 Male, 6 Female, 6 Chorus, 21 Total (details). Setting: Single Interior Setting.
9 Male, 6 Female, 6 Chorus*, 21 Total
* Characters in the interludes and finale can all be doubled with characters in the main action, bringing the total necessary down to 12.
ARGAN, an imaginary invalid
BELINE, Argans second wife
ANGELIQUE, daughter of Argan, in love with Cleante
LOUISON, young daughter of Argan
BERALDE, Argans brother
CLEANTE, in love with Angelique
MONSIEUR DIAFOIRUS, a doctor
THOMAS DIAFOIRUS, his son, suitor to Angelique
MONSIEUR PURGON, Argans doctor
MONSIEUR FLEURANT, an apothecary
MONSIEUR BONNEFOY, a notary
TOINETTE, a maidservant
A CHORUS OF ARCHERS (ALSO REFERRED TO AS DANCERS)
Single Interior Setting: Argans bedroom in his house in Paris.
NOTE: This script is now also available in a shortened, one-hour version.
The Imaginary Invalid (1673) may be considered another of Moliere's great character plays, in which the entire development of the action, like in The Miser, centered around a single trait of character upon which everything turns, in this case, that of the hypochondriac.
As created by Moliere, the hypochondriac is someone who wants to be sick. To tell Argan that he is looking well is considered a rude offense in this household. And just as the Miser confused the concepts of love and money, The Imaginary Invalid confuses religion and medicine. There is a sanctity given to medicine that echoes the mysteries of religion. Also, as in The Miser, the father wants to marry the daughter off to the person who will do him the most good, in this case, a doctor, who will be able to give Argan free medical treatment.
Moliere wrote the finale of The Imaginary Invalid in a kind of faux Latin, and subsequent translators have kept it in Latin, with English references replacing the scattered bits of French. Moliere's audience understood Latin. And we, as a public, knew Latin quite a bit better only forty years ago, when it was spoken in the Catholic mass. And so, the finale of The Imaginary Invalid has, in the past, left any number of people scratching their heads. For my version, I had the Latin translated into English, and then built new poetry out of the English, with Latin thrown in, only for effect. What's come out of this is a finale which seems to stretch the comic boundaries even farther than they've already ventured in this very funny play. In this earlier scene, under the influence of his brother, Argan requests that the apothecary return on another occasion to administer the enema that he has prepared. The doctor hears about this and confronts them.
The Imaginary Invalid
Act III, Scene 5
ARGAN, BERALDE, PURGON, TOINETTE
I just heard downstairs,
That light has here been made of my solutions;
Resistance greets my cures with some collusion!
Oh, sir, it wasn’t --
I can’t believe the cheek
To block the passage which I look to leak!
A patient who rebels against his doc!
An enema, which I’d concoct!
It wasn’t I ...
According to the rules,
Established and invented in our schools!
He’s in the wrong.
Designed to stimulate
The bowels, fully decontaminate ...
My brother ...
Shunning it with such disdain!
It’s he’s the one ...
To intervene, to shackle me ...
But he ...
A crime against the faculty!
It can’t be punished quite severe enough!
I’ll not put up with your foul guff.
From here on out, I’m severing relations!
It was my brother ...
No more supplications,
I’ll not endure your foul abomination;
Consider this your excommunication!
I’ll not allow familial alliance.
In the good interest of our science,
You see here is my marriage contribution
Which I destroy to take my retribution.
It was my brother earns this bad report.
To jeer at my injection! Sneer and thwart!
To snub my enema! Oh, darkened day!
Oh bring it back, I’ll take it right away!
Just when I was about to really cure you!
He don’t deserve it.
Oh! I can’t endure you!
I would have emptied all the humors rotten.
Twelve more doses would have gotten
Down to the empty bottom of the sack!
Since you orchestrate attack …
It’s not my fault!
And since you break our creed …
He so deserves this.
And, as you do breed
A discontent, a mockery, a jibe
Against communion with what I prescribe,
Revolt against our sacred mystery ...
I here declare you history!
I leave you to your vile constitution,
I let your bowels take their retribution,
Corrupt your blood, embitter bile, enslave
You to the feculence which you so crave!