audience

THE IMAGINARY INVALID

Director: Catherine Gruyer

Set Design: Martin Mohr
Choreography: Monia Giovannangeli

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Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid was the first production of the newly formed Theatre of Eternal Values in 1996. It was performed 85 times in eight European countries and in India (Mumbay and Delhi). It was also featured, with the patronage of the Ministry of Education, as a curricular presentation in 21 Austrian schools in conjunction with drama workshops. The Imaginary Invalid, directed by Catherine Gruyer, drew its inspiration from 'commedia dell arte' and burlesque, resulting in enchanting poetic imagery and highly-charged physical comedy. 

Driven by his obsession with illness and medicine, hypochondriac Argan decides to marry his eldest daughter, Angelique, to a doctor. Angelique, however, is in love with Cleante. Torn between love and duty she turns to Toinette, the housekeeper and backbone of the family. Will they succeed in overthrowing Argan's self-centred plans and outwit his manipulative and materialistic second wife, Béline?

Through this comedy, Moliere highlights our reliance on chemical remedies for our spiritual ailments and illustrates the need to find a cure from within.

Press reviews:

The Imaginary Invalid , 
The Scotsman, 
26. August 1997, Greyfriars Kirk House Theatre

Formed in Belgium only last year, the confident multinational cast of Theatre of Eternal Values begins its UK career with a vigorous adaptation of Moliere's Le Malade Imaginaire. Kenneth Jay is the sprightly hypochondriac Argan, a man preoccupied with his body at the expense of his spirit, who decides to marry his daughter to a doctor to save an bills and indulge his urge to be purged at will.

The ebullient central performance glosses over Argan's selfishness, leaving Nicolette van't Hek as his wife Beline to interrupt the fun and point it out, which she does without losing the audience’s sympathy. Mixing dance, mime and song, The Imaginary Invalid offers originality and a simple infectious exuberance that soon has the house in is hold, although the larger-than-life performances have clearly been honed in less intimate venues.

Gita Hahn as the housekeeper romps away with most of the laughs, a brief turn by Tilman Schillinger as Punchinello comes a close second. Doctor Diafoirus´s dissection lesson is a timeless reminder to make the most of life while you can, and you do a lot worse than start here. 

Tom Gordon

Theatre Review 

Theatre Of Eternal Values does well to sustain interest with an intensely modern translation and plenty of invention.

Song, dance, mime and burlesque make this colourful entertainment. If you worry that Moliere is best left to university courses, you should head along and see how close he can get to pure pantomime.
Stephen Naysmith

EXPRESS NEWSLINE 
22-28 Aug 1997 THE LIST 47


"I was sucked in by theatre" 
Just when you begin to write off Indian theatre, and despair sets in on the state of Indian drama, a whiff of fresh air clears the stagnation. This time the manna comes in the form of a unique drama troupe - the Theatre of Eternal Values, a "universal group of performers".

So, the fact that they rehearsed in Gent, Belgium while the Indians rehearsed in India was no deterrent to the universal language they had developed. In case you missed the show yesterday, try and join the universal bunch that deserves an A for humour.

Austria Today, 
24 - 30 October, 1997


If Your memories of Molière from university courses are not the fondest, you need a dose of "Theatre of Eternal Values". This multi-national company has done careful research into 17th-century French song, dance and burlesque and has come up with a colourful new take on "The Imaginary Invalid". Multilingual songs, brilliant dance routines and a hugely talented cast make this a Molière with a difference.

Wiener Zeitung (Austria), 
June 20 1997


Of the performance, one thing is sure: it is tempestuous, speedy, colourful. The French director Catherine Gruyer has, together with the actors, completely reworked this biting comedy. (...) Irrevernce and deliberately inserted breaks in style make the whole thing appear like a furious Carnival gag, like an unrestrained prank, which acknowledges nothing but itself.

The likeable team of performers throws itself into its work with temperament and commitment, is on the ball and disciplined. Representative of the whole cast we can name Debbi Eckmann and Tim Bruce, whose naturalness and youthful freshness are enchanting.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe ,UK
The Stage, 
August 28,1997, Greyfriars Kirk House 
‘A gem of a show.’

Theatre of Eternal Values, an innovative multi-national company, after careful research into late 17th Century French dance, mime and burlesque, has most cleverly blended them in this commendably inventive and highly entertaining production of Moliere's classic comedy. 

From the moment the hypochondriac Argan takes the stage, plotting to marry his beautiful daughter Angelique into a medical family for his own benefit, the rollicking fun is non-stop, for she is determined to wed her beloved Cleante - and Toinette, the everscheming housekeeper, uses every stratagem to ensure she does. 

A very talented cast exploits to the full the richness of Molière’s characters, with deliciously exaggerated expressions and gestures. swift changes of stage styles(from Paris chansons to Victorian melodrama), quick movement routines and multi-lingual songs in a calculated medley of accents, all adding to the appeal. 

Victor Vertunni hilariously overacts as Dr Diaforus, Kenneth Jay as a richly expressive Argan, Sigrid Mertens delights as the love-struck Angelique, Debbie Eckmann appeals as Louison, her naughty younger sister, Gita Hahn is an ever-inventive Toinette, and George Barbeton greatly amuses as inept suitor Thomas. Monia Giovannangeli dances beautifully throughout as the angel.

This is Moliere with a difference, expressing the essence of his plot and style in richly imaginative and totally entertaining fashion.
A gem of a show.

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