(*) Ewa Procter
Photo credits: Guga Melgar
Considered by theatre specialists as one of the best comedy plays written by French dramatist Molière (1622-1673), “O Doente Imaginário” (in French, “Le Malade Imaginaire; in its English translation, “The Imaginary Invalid”) is a classic that most of us have seen in the past through different stagings and in different countries.
Now, the Cia. Limite 151, famous for staging classic plays in the 26 years of their existence, is presenting a revival of this play, one that is in their repertoire, and has been since 2013. Once again, the company uses the translation and adaptation by João Bethencourt (1924-2006), a famous Brazilian writer and translator; also the excellent basic set and elaborate costumes by Colmar Diniz are a part of this revival. The direction is by Jacqueline Laurence who is very familiar with Molière’s works, both as an actress and as a director.
For those of you who do not remember much about this play, I will give you below a short summary of its plot. Angelica, the daughter of Argan, a rich bourgeois who is also a miser and a hypochondriac, falls in love with a young man, romantic Cleanto. However, her father wants her to marry a doctor, as this way he would save money and be sure to have free consultations without even having to go out of the house. Obviously things do not work out the way Argan had planned. And there is a happy ending for everybody concerned! I would say that during his life, instead of getting everybody (including himself!) involved in complicated plots, I believe Argan should have had in mind Edward Moore (1712-1757) when he wrote: “I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice.”
This production of “O Doente Imaginário” has an excellent cast, with Élcio Romar, as Argan leading his colleagues into a tone of comedy that appeals very much to the audience. Antonieta, the maid, played by Gláucia Rodrigues is outstanding, and deserves all praises. I watched the play on its opening night, and Gláucia Rodrigues was applauded a lot during and after the performance. Edmundo Lippi playing Argan’s brother, Beraldo and Andressa Lameu as Angelica, together with the other members of the cast, give excellent performances in this classic play.
If one analyses Molière’s comedies, one comes to the conclusion that the main character is always a not so young man. This is because Molière used to write plays for himself and where he took the role of the male lead. It is the same here; however, unfortunately this was the last play Molière wrote, as he died during its run.
This production of “O Doente Imaginário” is very good, as the Cia. Limite 151 is always most demanding with all the plays they stage. I saw some of their works in the past, but obviously I was unable to write about all of them. However, recently I reviewed “O Casamento Suspeitoso” (December/January 2017) for “The Umbrella” readers, another success of this company.
“O Doente Imaginário” plays at the Teatro Eva Herz, a very comfortable little theatre (170 seats) inside the Livraria da Cultura, on Rua Senador Dantas, 45 – downtown Rio de Janeiro. Telephone number is (21) 3916-2600; box office is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 04:00 P.M. until 07:00 P.M. Performances take place from Tuesday to Saturday, at 07:00 P.M. There are no performances on Sunday, because the Livraria da Cultura is closed. The same applies to National Holidays, such as the 2nd and the 15th of November. There is no parking, but the Metro (Cinelândia Station) is two blocks away. There are also a number of taxis at the end of the performance that finishes early – by 8:45 P.M., even if there is a small delay, the play is over and the audience ready to go home!
The run is scheduled from the 13th of October until the 16th of December. Price of tickets is R$ 40,00 (forty Reais) and R$ 20,00 (twenty Reais) at all performances, from the 13th of October until the 3rd of November. Then, as from the 4th of November, prices will go up a little, until the end of the run: R$ 40,00 (forty Reais) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and R$ 60,00 (sixty Reais) from Thursday to Saturday. The play lasts for ninety minutes without an interval. Censorship is for young people under the age of 10.
So, if you are interested in classic plays, do not miss “O Doente Imaginário”. You will certainly have a very entertaining evening!
And as in this article I seemed to have landed in France, I wish to add that “Josephine Baker, a Vênus Negra”, a musical play that I reviewed for “The Umbrella” readers in May, 2017, is back at the Teatro Maison de France where it had its first very successful run. I was there for the 15th Anniversary party of the theatre’s reopening, on the 19th of October; even if I had watched the play before, I certainly also enjoyed it very much this second time!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theater translator,
and Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga