A Heathcare Comedy at WWU, Lynden is “Our Town,” and It’s Salsa Time!

Here’s how director Evan Mueller describes the plot of Constance Congdon’s adaptation of Moliere’s classic farce, “The Imaginary Invalid:”  A herculean hypochondriac fights the high cost of healthcare. Hijnx ensue.
In the outrageously funny masterpiece, which opens tonight, Feb. 7, and runs through Feb. 16 at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center’s DUG Theatre, the hypochondriac Argan wants his daughter to marry a doctor so he can save on his medical bills. But she’s in love with someone else. Soon the whole household joins in her madcap scheme to save true love and give Argan’s doctors a dose of their own medicine.
This is the last comedy written by Molière, first acted at the Palais Royal Theatre, on Feb. 10, 1673, and Molière acted the part of Argan. He wasn’t feeling too well when he wrote the play; in fact, he died not long after. He wrote it so he could  perform the character Argan sitting down.
Once we started working on the script,” says Mueller, “we realized that this is not a very OLD play, it’s actually a very YOUNG play!  Moliere was setting out to satirize life in 17th century France, he says, and in this new adaptation by Constance Congdon, the play stays true to its 17th-century roots while achieving a lively and hilarious satire of the 21th century and our absurd relationship to health care.”
“It’s full of comic bits, clever dialogue, and strong characters. It’s been a blast watching our actors bring the story to life: silly, absurd, outrageous and smart – what more could you want from a night in the theater?”
A side note: In what my family calls “the director’s acid trip,” the epilogue of the play takes total leave of its senses, with the cast murmuring ­gibberishimus Latinimus sung to catchy music, combining nonsensical Latin words and phrases with pig Latin.
And be warned: the dialogue is full of bawdiness, or low humor — earthy, concerned with bodily functions, secretions and the differences between us, such as ethnicity, hair color, gender and class. But it cleverly merges with hgh humor — satire, political parody, and wit. For tickets (which are recommended, since it’s performed in a small, in-the-round space), call 360-650-6146 or order tickets online.

Watching a staging of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Our Town,” presented by Lynden Performing Arts Guild tonight, Feb. 7, through Feb. 24 at the Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Dutch Village Mall, 655 Front St., there were many lines that made me smile at the similarity between the 1938 play and present-day Lynden.
Here’s one: “Mr. Webb’s cuttin’ his lawn over there; one man in ten thinks it’s a privilege to push his own lawn mower.”
Mijo Stumpf directs the play in her directorial debut, and wisely takes the traditional path of setting the stage in a minimalist fashion, and keeps the characters as Wilder would have wanted them, with old-fashioned New Hampshire sensibility and tenderness.
Here’s what she says: “Our Town’ tells the story of home, loss and love. We are introduced to the lives of the residents of (the fictional) Grover’s Corners as they invite us into their daily lives, their weddings, their funerals, their thoughts and dreams. Through the lens of the ordinary lives of two families and their community, we discover what truly matters in life.”
On why she wanted to direct this particular show, Stumpf says “The more I read ‘Our Town,’ the more I realize important this play is to Lynden, my hometown. As I am taken through the opening words of the Stage Manager’s monologue, I see our mountain, our churches, Front Street, our farmland, our train tracks, our schools, this theater, and my little house by the middle school.”
“As I read, I feel like Lynden jumps into the text of this play, or maybe the play becomes the town. It is for this reason that I asked to produce this show. It is, in a way, a love letter to every hometown. Today, ‘Our Town’ is about ours.”
Tickets are on sale at the theater box office, 360-354-4425, and online at www.theclaire.org.

A Bellingham night of authentic Cuban salsa with Seattle’s 10-piece Orchestra Zarabanda set for Friday, Feb. 8, at the Firefly Lounge, 1015 N. State St. , has been cancelled due to snow.

 

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