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“The Imaginary Invalid” Clowns with Satire of Modern Medicine

William & Mary Theatre and Dance brings a fresh take to a classic Molière comédie-ballet piece, “The Imaginary Invalid”, premiering at the Kimball Theatre this November. 

The play is a comic adaptation of Molière’s classic tale of Argan, a hopeless hypochondriac who is constantly chasing new treatments for his woefully false diagnoses. Throw in an arranged marriage, for meds not love, of course, and you’ve got a classic comedy of utter quackery. 

The production is directed by a guest artist to the William & Mary Theatre Department, Vanessa Gilbert. Gilbert brings a robust background in the theatre, including a love for puppetry on the stage and a sense of humor that brings “Invalid” to life. 

“I knew that theatre was the way I wanted to tell stories as early as 4 years old, when I saw a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence RI,” said Gilbert. “I started a puppet program at Perishable called Blood from a Turnip, which showcased short form puppet work for grown up audiences because kids shouldn't get all the puppetry fun. I love using objects as part of a way to tell a story and I know that this comes from my love of puppets. But not marionettes. Those are scary.” 

She is working to bring Molière’s satire to life at the Kimball Theatre this fall, and bringing a unique twist to the comédie-ballet art form that integrates dancing and singing into a script.

“We've taken the form to heart and are devising our own versions of interludes for the production that are meant to entertain and satirize our current obsession with health and wellness,” said Gilbert. 

She noted the play’s all-too-relevant satire on the current state of the wellness industry. 

 “The pharmaceutical industry keeps churning out medicines to aid every condition but that are accompanied with lists of side effects often worse than the affliction the medicine is meant to cure, (even death). The play calls this kind of authority out, asking that we instead use common sense and truly listen to our own inner voices.”

The show marks the second live play from the Theatre Department since COVID-19 halted in-person events. Gilbert noted the distinct energy about the cast as they explore their roles and continue to create live theatre. 

Audiences can expect a thrilling and fast-paced comedy that will capture the senses and keep them laughing.  

“It is bawdy! and by that I mean, embodied,” said Gilbert. “This is not a polite drawing room play in which characters strike a pose and wax rhapsodic about their daily lives...if the body humor doesn't grab you, the fun of the story will! If folks enjoy the American Pie movies or Bridesmaids, this is likely to entertain.” 

Join William & Mary Theatre for this live comedy November 18-21. Performances run at the Kimball Theatre on Duke of Gloucester Street at 7:30pm Thursday-Saturday, and 2:00pm on Sunday. Tickets are available now at wm.edu/boxoffice or by visiting the Box Office at the Theatre, Tu-Fri, 2pm-6pm.

Join in the TSD Cares Ticket Program! We will be offering discounted tickets to a different group for every mainstage show, starting with “The Imaginary Invalid.”

All medical professionals and hospital workers can claim one of 50 pairs of discounted seats. Community members of this group will receive tickets at a discounted rate of $7. Tickets can be claimed by emailing boxoffice@wm.edu, or by calling or visiting the Kimball Box Office.