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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

"The Imaginary Invalid"
Thursday, January 20, 2022 @ 5:21 AM

"Le malade imaginaire", first performed in Paris in 1673, was written by the French dramatist Moliere. It is the most performed of his plays. Despite its age it still resonates today, particularly in the age of Covid-19 and the ever-increasing profits of pharmacists and drug manufacturers.

Brought to life this last weekend in Ronda (Málaga) by theatre group Proyecto Platea “El enfermo imaginario” played to packed houses at the Teatro Vicente Espinel in the City of Dreams.

Beautifully directed by Ronda-born actor and director Marcos Marcell, the 21-strong cast excelled themselves. This is an amateur drama group bolstered, I think, by just two professionally trained actors, Marcos himself and Emma Cherry, originally from the UK. The rest are ordinary folk with ordinary occupations; for example, a retired doctor, a sports shop proprietress, a waitress, housewives and students.

Yet the director coaxed outstanding nad deliciously over-the-top performances from every cast member. I particularly liked Ana Belén Sánchez’ hilarious interpretation of Antonia, the maid. Charo Carrasco was perfect as the unfortunate daughter Angélica, as was Nieves Rodriguéz as her sister Beralda. The invalid himself, Argán, played exquisitely by Avelino Écija, was suitably grumpy and irascible.

And let’s not forget the two pros, Marcos Marcell as the delightfully camp Diaforius and Emma Cherry as the go-getting wife of the protagonist, Belisa.

I like to think I know a bit about the world of drama, acting and directing. At an amateur level I acted a lot and directed too. I have been a sometime theatre critic. My first wife, Jeryl Burgess, is a professional actress and my son and daughter-in-law, Tom Whitelock and Susannah Austin, also. Curiously these latter two trained at the same drama college as Emma Cherry, albeit in different eras.

The companies I worked in were generally regarded as being of a professional standard, but I have to hold my hands up and say that Proyecto Platea were better at the weekend than SPADES, the Playmakers of Stockton Heath, Salford Players or Altrincham Garrick.

It is a widely-held view that amateur actors don’t know what to do with their hands on stage. Not the case with this company. Their exaggerated gestures were wonderful.

The set was beautiful, the costumes stunning, and the pace and movement was sustained throughout the more than two hours of this masterful production. The audience loved it! ¡Enhorabuena a todos!



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