Moliere’s three-act comedy Le Malade Imaginaire has been pared down to its hysterical essence by writer and director, Roger Weiss. And for the next month, the ZJU enfant terrible has prescribed an excellent antidote for the end-of-the-weekend blues. Indeed, the only thing this Zombie Joe production of The Hypochondriac suffers from is belly-shaking badinage.
We meet our weary hypochondriac doling out cash to his unscrupulous pharmacist. The ever-ailing Argan can’t get enough medical care for his myriad maladies. His interminable need for cures has driven him to enlist a doctor’s son to take his own daughter’s hand in marriage. The bumbling suitor is expected to become a physician himself thereby increasing Argan’s panacea jackpot.
As would be the case, his daughter Abigail is in love with a laid back surfer dude, and refuses her father’s unsettling set up. You’ll be glad to know that in the present day world of Zombie Joe the threat of sending your daughter to a nunnery still carries weight. And now, Abigail’s man must pose as her music teacher to sneak some private time together. Cut to rollicking rap-opera subterfuge.
No Moliere adaptation would be complete without a sassy maid; accordingly, a Zombie Joe production would be incomplete without a sexy one. Here, we’ve got both! The cheeky servant devises a plan so Argan can see who genuinely cares for him. Incidentally, there’s the sleazy stepmother who’s clearly using Argan for his money, but his head is too foggy to see the light.
The neurotic father is played with convincing maladjustment by Michael Durack. His dedicated daughter Abigail is brought to life by Hannah Kaplan. Her animated expressions make her an ace at physical and musical comedy. Nakisa Aschtiani as Toni, the discerning maid, whose indignant glances and wise flashes help expose the charlatans, is the true healer and heart of this farce.
A song, a dance, betrayal, and contagious laughs should be remedy enough to get the most paranoid germaphobe out of their sickbeds and into the ZJU funhouse.
THE HYPOCHONDRIAC run @ ZJU on Sundays @ 7pm, Thru May 4 (Dark Easter SUN April 20). 818.202.4120 for Reservations, Online at www.ZombieJoes.com
Photo Credit: Roger K. Weiss.