Molière’s last play was first produced in 1673. This adaptation by the ‘Poet Lauriat of Liverpool’ Roger McGough is a scathingly funny lampoon on both hypochondria and the ‘quackery’ of the medical profession.
Argan is a perfectly healthy, wealthy gentleman, convinced that he is seriously ill. So obsessed is he with medicinal tinkerings and tonics that he is blind to the goings on in his own household. However, his most efficacious cure will not appear in a bottle or a bedpan, but in his sharp-tongued servant, who has a cunning plan to reveal the truth and open her master's eyes.
Molière’s popular comic satires poked fun at everyone, even in this case himself and, in The Hypochondriac, concentrated mainly on doctors - their pomposity, ignorance, excessive fees and use of Greek and Latin to confuse their patients. As he put it, “They know their classics - how to terrify you in Latin”, but other vices are not ignored. The duplicity of priests, the avarice of lawyers, greed, deception, vacuous romantic love and the nonsense of what amounts to an ‘honorary degree’ are all covered.