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DC – Drama City: Criticizing The Imaginary and the Invalid by mnjones
June 12, 2008, 10:38 am
Filed under: FEATURES, Theatre

Last night a friend and I saw the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid. Keith Baxter , a frequent STC collaborator, directed the 17th Century French comedy adapted by Alan Drury. Within the first five minutes of the production I was reminded just how embarrassing theatre can be – embarrassing for the actors, embarrassing for the audience, embarrassing for the 100+ STC staff members listed in the program.

First of all, the charms of 17th Century bathroom humor were lost on both myself and Miss. Scheer. Secondly, the aged audience’s fascination with said humor was baffling. Don’t these people realize that you don’t go to classic theatre productions to be entertained, you go to be educated? Just because it’s a “comedy” doesn’t mean it’s funny anymore; we don’t have to laugh if we don’t want to. We have HBO and the Golden Girls and David Letterman. And just because the actors are flinging themselves at you for any type of response doesn’t mean you have to respond. They got themselves into this profession. They’re the ones who couldn’t extend their stints on The Wire and Law and Order. It’s not our job to make them feel better. Yes, I sit in the audience with my arms crossed. Your adequacy will earn my applause; your attention whoring will earn my scorn.

Strangely enough, Invalid will most likely be considered one of the successes of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 07/08 season. The production was in every way adequate, and I actually enjoyed Rene Auberjonois‘ performance as Argan. I even moved past seeing him as Judge Keeler from Judging Amy (eventually). Less impressive was the performance of Gia Mora in the role of Angelique. The actress struggled with the classic piece, and defaulted to posing rather than acting. The incongruity between the performances of Mora and Auberjonois was not limited to the father-daughter duo. My constant criticism of STC productions is the disparity between the very professional lead actors, and the decisively amateur supporting and ensemble actors. STC is meant to be a professional theatre company, not a few professional performances in a sea of “who was available.”

Perhaps, STC would be better advised to cut their season by half and condense their real talent into a few productions of high quality, rather than continually spreading themselves thin with a deficit of professional actors throughout their season. This would also make my program perusing far more interesting; everybody knows the best part of any theatre production is seeing people from tv and movies live.

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3 Comments so far
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Ohhh, the Regional Affairs Editor…How could we forget about the Sun and settle on “Eastern European prostitute”?

P.S. I had not heard an enema joke since that Blink-182 album until last night when I was subjected to an enema joke basically every other line of the play in the company of elderly audience members.

Comment by rachels

Well, I haven’t seen 5th Season…so, I blame you.
You gave away the enema thing! Now there’s no point in anyone seeing it…

Comment by mnjones

You haven’t seen 5th Season??? Get ON that!

Comment by rachels




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