Le Malade imaginaire

Definition

Theater

  • (The Hypochondriac) The last play by Molière,who collapsed and died after his fourth performance in the title roleat the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in 1673. His wife, ArmandeBéjart (1641 - 1700), played the role of his daughter,Angélique.

    The play revolves around the hypochondriac Argan and his obsessivebelief that there is something seriously wrong with his bowels. Hisdoctor and pharmacist are happy to supply pills and purgatives. Arganwants his daughter, Angélique, to marry a doctor, and her fiancéagrees to take up the profession to win his approval. Finally, however,Argan's brother persuades the hypochondriac to become a doctor himself.

    One of the least successful revivals of the play was thatgiven in London by Elisabeth Bergner and A. E. Matthews in1951. The British press was particularly hostile to Bergner for desertingLondon during the war and she seems to have reacted by taking outher frustrations on her fellow actor. As John Gielgud recalled, "Shehad some fun in trying to upstage the redoubtable old warhorse A.E. Matthews, who was far too experienced a performer to let her getaway with it."

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