Delving into the script for Wilsonville High's upcoming performance of the 1673 play "Imaginary Invalid," senior Katie Walter noticed characters, jokes and themes that are familiar to her life in 2020.
Though the play originated in a vastly different time period, she hopes audience members will forge similar connections.
"A lot of times people see classic plays and think they're not going to understand it," Walter said. "(But) you're going to laugh just as hard as you would in 1673."
The Wilsonville High theater department is hosting performances of the French comedy at 7 p.m. Feb. 27-29 and March 5-7 at the Wilsonville High auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and children. It's recommended for ages 12 and older.
"Imaginary Invalid" is about hypochondriac Monsieur Ardin, played by senior Casey Young, as he deals with supposed ailments, overbearing doctors and medical bills, while also trying to marry off his daughter, Angélique, (played by senior Samantha Katz). Throughout the play, characters try to rid Ardin of his delusions.
"A lot of it is he (Ardin) uses his sickness to get attention. He starts to believe the lie. And the doctors want money from him," Young said.
Wilsonville High theater director John Fitzgerald said he has long hoped to produce a French play from the 17th century and liked that this show has many strong female characters, is an extravagant spectacle, and the translation of the play is easy to understand.
Much of the humor comes from the subtext of conversations. Fitzgerald said the most challenging aspect of the performance is getting the actors to bring out life's multidimensions.
"They have to be aware of stuff beyond what is actually said," Fitzgerald said.
Averyl Hartje, who plays the maid, Toinette, at one point disguises herself as a doctor to test Ardin's illnesses. She enjoys the physical humor in the performance and said the key to that is to exaggerate movements.
"It's about making distinct, big choices and bold gestures," she said.
Walter plays Ardin's little brother, Beralde, who tries to help Ardin come to his senses. They (Walter uses they/them pronouns), appreciates the irony and wordplay in the show and enjoys feeding off of other characters.
"The wordplay is modern and similar to my sense of humor," Walter said.
Young spends much of the performance fumbling around, coughing or writhing in pain. And the performance provided him the opportunity to play a kind of character he had never tried before.
"The thing that really drew me to this character was the capability for the humor in it," Young said. "I can change the mood of the scene by being sick or not sick, and it's a very comedic show."
Like her castmates, Hartje thinks the Wilsonville community won't regret attending the performances.
"They should come because it's really light-hearted, fun and will bring a smile to your face," she said.
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