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The Imaginary Invalid
Moliere's
The Imaginary Invalid
in a new verse adaptation
by Timothy Mooney

About the Adaptation | Excerpt | Timothy Mooney Bio | Home | Order Copy

About the Adaptation
by Tim Mooney

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 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 thirty 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. In response to this, 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.

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The Imaginary Invalid
Act III, Scenes 4-5
BERALDE, ARGAN, FLEURANT

BERALDE
Can you not go one day without correction
Of bowels at your doctor's fool behest?
Let's put it off and take a little rest.

ARGAN
Fleurant, come back tonight, or in the morning.

MONSIEUR FLEURANT (To BERALDE.)
What business of your own is it suborning
Prescriptions for the gentleman's good health?
I must give him this enema myself!

BERALDE
You're not accustomed, given your ill graces,
address-requireding yourself to your patient's faces.

MONSIEUR FLEURANT
You have no business joking, making fun,
When I come here with job that must be done.
I'm sent, sir, here, to give a good prescription,
I shall inform Purgon of dereliction,
And we will see what he may then decide! (He exits.)

ARGAN
I think you went too far with your ill chide.

BERALDE
Ah! That we missed an enema from Purgon!
Can't we be cured of quacks who so converge on
You? Must you be their victim all your life?

ARGAN
Good brother, you speak as one free from strife;
You'd change your tune if you had what I had;
You wouldn't think that doctors were so bad.
These men have done for me an awful lot ...

BERALDE
So tell me, just what is it you have got?

ARGAN
Now you are getting me a bit upset.
I almost wish you had my illness, yet.
We'd see you laugh amid your black despair!
Ah, Monsieur Purgon ...

Act Three, Scene Five
ARGAN, BERALDE, PURGON, TOINETTE

PURGON
I just heard downstairs,
That light has here been made of my solutions;
Resistance greets my cures with some collusion!

ARGAN
Oh, sir, it was --

PURGON
I can't believe the cheek
To block the passage which I look to leak!
A patient who rebels against his doc!

TOINETTE
A shock!

PURGON
An enema, which I'd concoct!

ARGAN
It wasn't I ...

PURGON
According to the rules,
Established and invented in our schools!

TOINETTE
He's in the wrong.

PURGON
Designed to stimulate
The bowels, fully decontaminate ...

ARGAN
My brother ...

PURGON
Shunning it with such disdain!

ARGAN
It's he's the one ...

PURGON
Unconscionably vain!

TOINETTE
So true.

PURGON
To intervene, to shackle me ...

ARGAN
But he ...

PURGON
A crime against the faculty!
It can't be punished quite severe enough!

TOINETTE
Quite right.

PURGON
I'll not put up with your foul guff.
From here on out, I'm severing relations!

ARGAN
It was my brother ...

PURGON
No more supplications,
I'll not allow your foul abomination;
Consider this your excommunication!
I'll not allow familial alliance.

TOINETTE
Good move.

PURGON
In the good interest of our science,
You see here is my marriage contribution
Which I destroy to take my retribution.

ARGAN
It was my brother earns this bad report.

PURGON
To jeer at my injection, sneer and thwart!
To snub my enema! Oh, darkened day!

ARGAN
Oh bring it back, I'll take it right away!

PURGON
Just when I was about to really cure you!

TOINETTE
He don't deserve it.

PURGON
Oh! I can't endure you!
I would have emptied all the humors rotten.

ARGAN
Ah, brother!

PURGON
Twelve more doses would have gotten
Down to the empty bottom of the sack!

TOINETTE
Unworthy!

PURON
Since you orchestrate attack,

ARGAN
It's not my fault!

PURGON
And since you break our creed,

TOINETTE
He so deserves this.

PURGON
And, as you do breed
A discontent, a mockery, a jibe,
Against communion with what I prescribe,
Revolt against our sacred mystery ...

ARGAN
Oh, no!

PURGON
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!

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About Timothy Mooney

Tim Mooney has worked in, with and around the theatre for almost thirty years, as an actor, director and playwright, and everything in-between.

Tim received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He went on to internships with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and the Seattle Rep, where he was assistant director to John Dillon and Daniel Sullivan, respectively.

Tim taught acting and stage movement for two years with Northern Illinois University, before creating “The Script Review,” a newsletter that reviewed some 700 plays in manuscript form over the course of seven years, distributed to Literary Managers and Directors all over the United States. As a director, Tim’s production of “Secret Obscenities” was one of five winners at the Bailiwick Directors’ Festival in Chicago.

From there, Tim stepped in as Artistic Director of the Stage Two Theatre Company, where he produced nearly fifty plays in five years, most of them original works.

When Stage Two turned to the classics, Tim adapted his own sparkling rhymed, iambic-pentameter versions of the plays of Moliere creating fifteen new Moliere plays in seven years. Stage Two produced “Tartuffe,” “The Miser,” “The Schemings of Scapin,” “The Misanthrope,” “The Doctor in Spite of Himself” and “Sganarelle,” and companies around the world picked up on these plays too, with productions all across the United States, as well as Canada and even India. U.S. venues included the Pasadena Shakespeare Festival, M.I.T., Wayne State University and Universities of Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio and many more.

Tim’s writing work brought him full circle, back in front of the footlights as a performer, playing the lead role in many of the works he had written. (In fact, all of the roles in which he now found himself cast were the parts that Moliere himself had originated!) This was to give Tim the impetus for a one-man show, “Moliere Than Thou” (Best Adapted Work, San Francisco Fringe Fest). The play serves as a quick introduction to some of Moliere’s greatest works and speeches, and has been seen all over the U.S. and Canada. It has given tens of thousands of students their first exposure to Moliere, and along the way Tim has taught thousands of students in his workshops, introducing the concepts further developed in his upcoming text, “Acting at the Speed of Life,” as well as his collection of Moliere Monologues.

Most recently, Tim has further refined the art of the one-person show, creating a one-man Sci-Fi Thriller, “Criteria,” (Artistic Picks Finalist, Seattle Fringe Fest), as well as “Karaoke Knights” a “One Man Rock Opera.”

Tim continues to write new versions of the plays of Moliere, novels, short stories, songs, children’s stories and screenplays.

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