Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Yorktown High School The Imaginary Invalid

By • Nov 17th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

The classical style of Moliere met the rambunctious and energetic expression of Commedia dell’ Arte in an explosion of theatrical creativity at Yorktown High School this weekend in their production of The Imaginary Invalid.

Originally performed in 1673, the one act tells the comical tale of the hypochondriac Argan, who is convinced that he is direly ill, when in fact he is not. In order to receive free medical care, he decides to have his daughter, Angelique, marry a doctor. Unfortunately, Angelique is already in love with young Cleante. It is up to Angelique, with the help of Argan’s brother, Beralde, and their clever servant, Toinette, to convince her father that he is not ailing and that she, therefore, need not marry a doctor.

Yorktown made a clever choice in deciding to perform this already hysterical piece with the masks, mannerisms, and stock characters that accompany Commedia dell’ Arte. Although the mayhem at the beginning was slightly confusing, as the performance went on, it became easier to follow. The production as a whole was very enjoyable. The talent of every member of the cast was remarkable. Even as the actors took turns playing the lead characters, the show maintained its flow.

The actors switched off playing the lead roles; with three acts, there were three Argans and three Toinettes. Though all three actors in the role of Argan brought enthusiasm and energy to the character, Philip Baraoidan, taking the role in Act One, stood out, bringing remarkable and noticeable depth to the ancient stock character. Similarly, Allison Ham as Toinette in Act Three shone in her mastery of melodrama. Emily Johnson also demonstrated the powers of intentional overacting necessary for her character in her portrayal of Angelique.

Not only did the actors alternate playing the leads, they also traded off playing the three Zanni, or servants. The Zanni ensemble in Act One, played by Paul Kenny, Elaine McCartin, and Eileen Sugameli was particularly well-acted. In constant motion, the ensemble was always entertaining but never detracted from the main action of the show.

Although there were a few glitches in the technical aspects of the show, there were also strong points. The sets crafted by the Yorktown set crew were wonderfully versatile. The costumes, headed by Raphael Regan, Philip Baraoidan, and Emily Johnson, were fantastic. Cohesive but unique to each character, removable pieces passed between leads made it easy to follow who was who.

Although The Imaginary Invalid is difficult to alter, Yorktown made the show their own in an enjoyable evening of laughs and lazzis.

by Allie Cropp of Fairfax High School

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