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Cappies: 'The Imaginary Invalid'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 6, 2010 - "I must insist she wed the little quack!" Such a line perhaps best illustrates the hilarious chaos that defines Bishop DuBourg High School's production of "The Imaginary Invalid" on Friday night.

Written by French playwright Moliere, "The Imaginary Invalid" was performed first in 1673. Originally written in French, this three-act comedic satire was adapted for Bishop DuBourg by Timothy Mooney. Considered the Shakespeare of his country and one of the masters of comedy, some other of Moliere's famous works include "The Miser" and "The Would-Be Gentleman."

In "The Imaginary Invalid," Argan, a temperamental, child-like man who thinks himself sicker than he really is, promises his daughter, Angelique's, hand to a soon-to-be doctor, Thomas Diafoirus. Angelique, however, plans to marry Cleante, and Argan's maid, Toinette, conspires with Angelique to help her change her father's mind. The plot has an interesting way of coming together in this very entertaining farce.

The show was anchored by the cast's characterization and witty line delivery. Energy generally remained very high throughout, and all the actors reacted to each comical situation, busting the gut of every audience member without fail.

The production's two leads were Argan and Toinette. Played by Joe Konroy, Argan was a clear-cut, very developed character whose antics and mannerisms never ceased to surprise and amaze. His never-ending theatrics and seemingly ceaseless self-indulgence in doctor's "prescriptions and injections" continued to keep the audience laughing and eager for more. Toinette, portrayed by Anne Mattson, increased the production's value evermore through her facetious remarks. Often intended to goad Argan, Toinette frequently made wisecracking jokes at his expense, unbeknown to her master. Both of these actors greatly enhanced the caliber of the performance.

Many appearances were made throughout the play by a wide variety of characters. One of these included Angelique's sister, Louison (Jessica Weidhaas), who was traumatically chased by her father, who threatened to whip her with a stick, to which her reaction was a purposefully overdramatic "death" (rest assured, it is not so disturbing in context of the production). Several others include Thomas Diafoirus (Ron Wingbermuehle), Monsieur Purgon (Phill Kosta), and Argan's wife, Beline (Olivia Welby), each of whom brought both a shining stage presence as well as thoroughly developed characters.

DuBourg's set was well constructed and fit the show's time period in addition to the performance's needs. Without the magic of any microphones, each of the actors was easy to hear and understand, contributing to a successful production.

Bishop DuBourg High School's performance of "The Imaginary Invalid" was both entertaining and inspiring, each scene adding to the play's hilarity. DuBourg's talent certainly isn't invalid, nor is it in any way imaginary.

About the Cappies

The Critics and Awards Program for high school theater - known as Cappies - was formed in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting to celebrate writing and performing arts at America's high schools. It operates chapters across the nation.

St. Louis' program was launched in 2002-03.

This year, 16 schools are participating, producing 32 shows. Some 195 student critics will write nearly 1,000 reviews of the productions.

At the end of the year, the top performers, technicians and reviewers are honored during a Tony-style gala.

The Beacon is happy to help spread the word by printing some of the reviews.

Raymond Norlie is a student at Marquette High School

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