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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Hilarity is the RX in
A Doctor In Spite of Himself at Intiman Theatre

Also see David's reviews of The Full Monty and The Lady With All the Answers

A Doctor In Spite of Himself
Chelsey Rives, Daniel Breaker and Steven Epp
The plot is not the thing in the rollicking new adaptation of the classic French farce A Doctor in Spite of Himself at Intiman Theatre. But who needs coherent plotting when you can self-medicate with the zesty direction by Christopher Bayes, rib-tickling goof of a script by Bayes and co-adapter (and cast member) Steven Epp, and a masterful cast of clowns?

The basics of the tale, taken, nay absconded with, from the Molière original, have to do with the ramifications of a spat between husband and wife Sganarelle and Martine, which spins into a ruse by the scheming wife which convinces their town that the rascally Sganarelle is in fact, as Cole Porter might have called him, "the most shattering physician." Soon this quack is into everyone's affairs, turning the falsehood to his own advantage.

Rising Broadway light Daniel Breaker (Passing Strange and Shrek) plays the wily and manipulative Sganarelle with such a gleam in his eye, spirit in his step, and comic invention that it might be time to start planning for him to star in a future Broadway reimagining of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Right in step with him are Allen Gilmore, hilarious as the wildly overprotective father of Chelsey Rives' sexy Jacqueline; the comic whirlwind Steven Epp (best described as the heir apparent to Tim Conway) as Lucas and Thibaut; the buoyant Don Darryl Rivera as a highly unique comic cupid; and the stylish foppery of smashing Austin Durant as the love-struck Leandre—not to slight fine, detailed comic performances by Ashley Marshall as the wound-up wife Martin and the hillbilly oddball Perrin, and Renata Friedman's tongue-tied Lucinde, looking like a Charles Addams character incarnate. The action is ideally and intriguingly underscored with panache by musicians Greg C. Powers and Robertson Witmer.

Scenic designer Narelle Sissons creates a fantastical playground of a fantasy world as tasty looking as spun sugar, with perfect lighting design by Greg Sullivan and bewitchingly droll costumes by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward. The use of Punch & Judy like puppets, which go back and forth in a scene with human actor counterparts, is but one if Bayes' directorial flourishes that make this show a must see.

The 2/3-full house I saw the show with early into the run surely (and deservedly) must have turned into SRO crowds by this time. I can't imagine anything by wildly favorable word of mouth for A Doctor In Spite of Himself, quite the most delicious show to grace the Intiman stage in too long a while.

A Doctor In Spite of Himself runs at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle Center through October 10th. For tickets or information contact the Intiman Box Office at 206-269-1900 or visit them online at www.Intiman.org.


Photo: Chris Bennion

See the list of this season's theatre offerings in the Seattle area.



- David Edward Hughes



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