A brand new production of The Hypochondriac starring Tony Robinson, Imogen Stubbs and Tracie Bennett opens at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 8th October to Saturday 18th October ahead of a nationwide tour. Richard Bean, the adaptor of One Man, Two Guvnors, turns Moliere’s medicinal masterpiece into a riotous farce in this new staging with songs by Richard Thomas, the composer and lyricist of Jerry Springer: The Opera and Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House, performed by a live band.
The twelve-strong cast also features Craig Gazey, David Collings and Michael Thomas. Lindsay Posner, who recently directed Hay Fever at the Theatre Royal Bath and Speed-the-Plow in the West End, returns to The Hypochondriac after first directing the comedy at the Almeida Theatre in 2005.
The penny-pinching Argan is healthy, wealthy and completely obsessed by a list of imaginary ailments. Confusion is piled upon hilarious confusion as a gang of eccentric quacks and Argan’s treacherous wife, endeavour to fleece him of his fortune, whilst his lovesick daughter, her dashing lover and an astute maid, attempt to set him straight.
Tony Robinson plays the role of Argan. One of the UK’s best-loved actors, he is known to millions of television viewers for his role as Baldrick in the BBC comedy series Blackadder, and for hosting Channel 4’s Time Team and The Worst Jobs in History. His extensive work on screen also includes playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in Maid Marian and her Merry Men, performing in Hotel Babylon, Big Bad World, My Wonderful Life, and appearing in the films Blackadder Back and Forth, Hogfather, Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage Wars, and Brannigan. He made his West End debut as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and started his stage career in repertory theatre. He appeared in The Wind in the Willows at the Royal Opera House, and toured the UK with Tony Robinson’s Cunning Night Out, which visited Bath in 2007. His previous performances at the Theatre Royal also include Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On in 1997. He was knighted in 2013, and is also an award-winning children’s author.
Imogen Stubbs plays the role of Beline. One of the leading actresses of her generation, her many stage credits include Othello; A Streetcar Named Desire; Betrayal for the National Theatre, which played Bath in 1999; St. Joan, which played Bath in 1994; and Three Sisters, which appeared at the Theatre Royal in 2002. She has also performed at the Theatre Royal in Uncle Vanya in 1996 and Alphabetical Order in 2009. Her most recent stage credits are Strangers on a Train in the West End earlier this year and Orpheus Descending at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2013. Well known for the television series Anna Lee and The Rainbow, her screen credits also include Miss Marple, Doctors, After the Dance and New Tricks; and the films Sense and Sensibility, True Colours, Jack and Sarah and Twelfth Night.
Playing the role of Toinette is Tracie Bennett, who was last seen at the Theatre Royal playing the role of Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow in 2011 – a performance which earned her standing ovations throughout the UK tour and the West End run. She has performed in Les Misérables; La Cage aux Folles, receiving the Whatsonstage Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical; and Hairspray and She Loves Me, winning an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance in both. Amongst her many stage credits, she also performed in the National Theatre production of Honk!, which toured to Bath in 2001. Her television work includes Scott & Bailey, Casualty, Doctors, New Tricks, Coronation Street, Next of Kin and Joking Apart.
Craig Gazey appears as Thomas. Well-known on television for playing Graeme Proctor in more than 250 episodes of ITV’s Coronation Street; he garnered a National Television Award for the role. His theatre credits include Before it Rains; Funny Peculiar, which visited Bath on tour in 2012; The Night Before Christmas at Soho Studio; The Merchant of Venice at The Globe; and Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, and Julius Caesar for the RSC. He returns to Bath after touring to the Theatre Royal in the West End production of The Full Monty earlier this year.
David Collings, who plays the role of Monsieur Diarfoirehoea, also performed at the Theatre Royal earlier this year in Cheek By Jowl’s staging of ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore, as part of a world tour. He has worked with director Lindsay Posner before appearing in his West End production of Carousel and in Volpone for the RSC. During his stage career, he has performed on many occasions at the National Theatre, the Barbican, in the West End and with the RSC. His numerous screen credits include A Tale of Two Cities, Doctor Who, Press Gang and Scrooge.
Michael Thomas appears as Beralde. He has recently performed in The Crucible at London’s Old Vic, All My Sons at the Watermill and the National Theatre’s tour of People. He has performed many times in the West End, with the RSC and at the National Theatre. His television credits include Doctors, Head Over Heels, Life Without George, Playing the Field and Endeavour. He last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in Candida in 1984. The Hypochondriac also features Jordan Metcalfe, Lisa Diveney, Joseph Hardy, John Sandberg, Royce Cronin and Andrew Bevis.
French playwright and actor Molière is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature, he also wrote The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, The Miser and The School for Wives. In 1673, during a production of this, his final play, Molière, was taken ill while playing the part of the hypochondriac Argan. Although he finished the performance he died a few hours later.
This summer, Lindsay Posner directed Hay Fever starring Felicity Kendal at the Theatre Royal Bath. One of the UK’s greatest directors of comedy, he also recently received acclaim for his productions of Noises Off at London’s Old Vic, and Abigail’s Party and Relatively Speaking in the West End; all of which also played the Theatre Royal Bath. He was Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre from 1987 to 1992, where his production of Death and the Maiden won two Olivier Awards. His numerous West End productions include Butley starring Dominic West; An Ideal Husband starring Samantha Bond; A View from the Bridge starring Ken Stott – nominated for four Olivier Awards, including Best Revival and Best Director; and Uncle Vanya starring Anna Friel, Ken Stott and Samuel West. This autumn he directed Lindsay Lohan making her West End debut in the Theatre Royal Bath Production of Speed-the-Plow.
Movement and dance is by Javier De Frutos, whose credits include his Olivier Award-winning choreography for Cabaret in the West End; Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe; London Road at the National Theatre; and working with Rambert Dance over many years. Illusions are by award-winning magician, illusionist and Vice President of the Magic Circle, Scott Penrose (Cirque Du Soleil, Love Never Dies).
The Hypochondriac appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 8th October to Saturday 18th October. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk