The Crucible (venue)
05 October 2023 (released)
09 October 2023
The Crucible was alive with the sound of laughter on Friday when Bafta award winning writer Roger McGough’s delightful adaptation of Molière’s The Hypochondriac landed in Sheffield. Bursting with frantic energy and oozing with absurd humour, the audience were left in stitches after a relentless two-and-a-half-hour production. The Hypochondriac was originally written by the illustrious French playwright Molière. Famous for his use of absurdist humour and tragic comedy, Molière is one of history’s defining and most uniquely characteristic playwrights.
Edward Hogg (The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet) delights as Argon, a hypochondriac who has concocted a righteous scheme to be able to manage his mounting medical bills. Whilst this is where the play begins, it takes many twists and turns and those unfamiliar with the original story will revel in the unpredictable chaos that this show provides. The Hypochondriac exudes exuberance and is irreverent in its approach to tackling the typical tropes of classic theatre. The production often feels like a fantastic amalgamation of all of the different tropes and characteristics that made classic theatre so timeless and entertaining in the first place. The pace is fast, without ever feeling too quick, and the ever-changing plot only adds to the wonderful chaos that the sublime rotating cast of actors provide.
One of the most enjoyable and interesting parts of the production is the fast-paced dialogue. The use of rhyme and poetry throughout the show is wildly creative and enables the incredible cast to add all sorts of their own personality and fresh, original touches to these beloved characters. The rhythm of the dialogue provides the foundation for which the entire production rests upon and has clearly been crafted and executed with care and patience. The pace of the poetry enables the actors to slow down and speed things up, seemingly at will, giving the perfect platform for the relentless barrage of physical and verbal humour that follows.
Giving the audience exactly what they came for, McGough’s adaptation remains true and faithful to the tropes and tone of Molière’s work. This is not a mere recreation though and perhaps one of the biggest compliments I can give to McGough is that he manages to shift this classic work into more modern territory with a great deal of subtlety. It has been adapted enough to feel fresh and new and yet not tinkered with enough to feel like its changes are needlessly forced or a novelty. McGough has struck a perfect balance between giving audiences the opportunity to witness a classic Molière production whilst also simultaneously being able to offer something new and unique.
If anyone has an ailment of the blues as the cold dark winter nights start to seep in then The Hypochondriac really is the cure that the doctor ordered. The Hypochondriac runs at The Crucible in Sheffield from September 30th until October 21st.