Saturday, 7 December 2002

Love is the Best Doctor, Dec 7, 2002

What: Love is the Best Doctor by Moliere Rogue Theatre
Where: Chapel off Chapel 12A Little Chapel St Prahran
When: Wed to Sun at 9pm until 22 December
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There's no denying it. 18th Century French playwright, Moliere, was a super satirist. He to the style of the Commedia del'Arte - the Italian clowns- and turned it into a biting attack on the upper classes.

Despite his acerbic wit, he was the darling of the aristocracy and of Louis XIV, the Sun King.

Love is the Best Doctor is a flimsy and funny piece of fluff that Moliere wrote and staged in five days for the King.

Moliere wrote that it was best seen with "the music of the incomparable Monsieur Lully , the fine singing and the skill of the dancers…"

Director, Alison Wall, hurls herself bodily at Moliere's own mode of using contemporary references. It is a comic success.

Sganarelle, (Terry Kenwrick) a wealthy man, invites three doctors to advise treatment of his daughter, Lucinde's, depression. Doctors Tom (Jaimie Robertson)  and Des ( Richard Vette) are charlatans and, in this production, drug users.

The third doctor, Clitandre, (Vette) is also a fake but he is the secret lover of Lucinde. (Alicia Gardner ). He treats her ailment with love.

The style is broad physical comedy. The actors grimace and prance, dance and gambol like mad children at a birthday party.

They are dressed in attention-grabbing, funny costumes designed by Jessie Willow Tucker and constructed from found objects, scraps of fabric and a wild vision.

As King Louis and other characters, comedian Alan Brough is a delightful and magnetic presence. His bright, compelling style and contemporary adaptations of dialogue are hilarious.

Gardner successfully plays Lucinde as a working class Aussie chick. Her smart maid, Lissette, is played with sexy charm by Jodi Dorday.

Vette and Robertson play the diabolical doctors with modern overtones.

The original live harpsichord ( Matthew Vehl) and trippy oboe (Warren Bloomer ) echo Moliere's Baroque composer, Lully, with a touch of pop.

Wall directs this play with verve and delight. She takes risks with the contemporary insertions and the result is a funny and unpretentious production.

By Kate Herbert

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