Blackwood Players Inc
Blackwood 21 (Blackwood Memorial Hall)
Until 20 Oct 2018

Review by Paige Mulholland

From the family and friends dominating the audience to the camaraderie on stage, “The Imaginary Invalid” is true community theatre. The performance is a little rough around the edges at times, but certainly had a silly charm that pulled the audience in.

An adaptation of a Molière classic, “The Imaginary Invalid” follows the story of Argan, a hypochondriac who has decided to marry his daughter off to a doctor in order to receive even more medical treatment. Little does he know, his daughter Angelique has chosen a suitor of her own and is willing to go to ridiculous lengths to avoid marrying anyone else. The play is a comedy of errors, with not much in the way of wit but plenty of silly moments and a feel-good ending.

The cast work well together, supporting each other attentively when cast members are struggling with lines or blocking goes awry (both of which happened occasionally on opening night). Dawn Ross is a standout as the gold-digging second wife Beline, and crowd favourite Janet Jauncey displays some great comic timing as Toinette, the housekeeper and the brains behind many of the schemes at play in the house. As a whole, the acting is very pantomime-style, and the cast aren’t afraid to lean into the melodrama of the script.

The costumes and set are both generally very well done, with a couple of exceptions. Although Angelique’s dress fits well and suits her character perfectly, there were stains on the dress that, once noticed, were hard to ignore. The female cast were grandly dressed in period-appropriate dresses, but the fact that their shoes were often either the wrong colour or the wrong style detracted from the overall effect – for period costumes like these, even a simple black chorus shoe would go a long way.

With plenty of community spirit, an excellent venue and a hardworking and good-humoured cast, “The Imaginary Invalid” has a lot to offer. It’s not polished, slick, or professional-level, but it’s a lot of fun, and, with its communal tables and BYO food policy, is a great place to make friends. And, at its core, isn’t that what community theatre is all about?