The opening show of Theatre Francais De Toronto's 1996-97 season, Moliere's Le Malade Imaginaire ("The Imaginary Invalid") is a co production between TfT and Theatre Smith-Gilmour, one of Toronto's premiere clown-based companies. After two nights of previews, the farce, performed in its original French, opens Nov. 8 and runs to Nov. 23.
Co-artistic director of Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Dean Gilmour, directs this "colorful new interpretation," which will be set in the center ring of a turn-of-the-century circus amidst the chaotic life of clowns. Moliere creates a topsy-turvy comic world by inverting his characters. Argan, the invalid, couldn't be healthier; Beline, his loving wife, only wants his money; rebellious daughter Angelique truly loves her dad; and the doctors who try to cure the hypochondriacal papa are all idiots.
Rene Lemieux, who often serves as a director for TfT, plays Argan. Michele Smith, who co-conceived this production, portrays sharp-tongued servant, Toinette. Stephanie Morgenstern (Angelique) last appeared at TfT in Moliere's School For Wives in 1995. Other performers include David Danzon, Olivier L'Ecuyer, Robert Godin, Christian Laurin and Nikole Pascetta. Elisa Gilmour and Nina Gilmour share the role of Argan's young daughter.
Sets and costumes for the circus-atmosphere show are by Teresa Przybyski; lighting is by Andrea Lundy.
Two other plays will fill out Theatre Francais De Toronto 29th season: Helene Pedneault's drama, The Deposition and Robert Marinier's solo, Insomnia. TfT currently has no artistic director, as five-year staffer Diana Leblanc left in June to pursue an outside acting and directing career. The company is currently casting about for a new artistic director, though no names have been put forward as leading candidates. Other comedies by Moliere include The Miser and The Misanthrope. For tickets ($15-$38C) and information call (416) 534-6604.
--By David Lefkowitz