Molière’s classic comedy comes to uproarious new life in a clever and contemporary adaptation from one of Berkeley Rep’s favorite artists. Steven Epp delighted audiences as Figaro and The Miser—now he’s back with A Doctor in Spite of Himself. The traditional story of a girl feigning illness to avoid an unwanted wedding erupts into hilarity when Epp decides to play doctor. In a pitch-perfect production punctuated with live music, this ridiculous physician proves that love and laughter remain life’s best medicine.
“Ingenious…There’s seemingly no end to the comic invention in this Doctor. Bayes, Epp and the rest of the wickedly funny cast cram the play with expertly executed classical routines, shtick, slapstick, sight gags, musical gags, political digs and a lot more…It’s a visual fun fest, from the ongoing interplay between Matt Saunders’ farcical stage and puppet sets and Kristin Fiebig’s array of 17th century and silent-film costumes to the puppetry of Renata Friedman. And it’s a musical treat, from the clever rap, soul, Broadway and opera singing and Aaron Halva’s score to the fine-tuned musicians Greg C. Powers and Robertson Witmer. Epp pours his considerable comic genius into Sganarelle, the loutish woodcutter cudgeled into pretending to be a ‘genius doctor’—and finding he rather likes it (the role originally played by Molière, who allowed himself plenty of room for improvisation). His tongue-twisting arias of mock Latin, medical jargon and phallic wood-whacking terms are crudely polished gems. He gets plenty of support at every turn. Allen Gilmore is outstanding as the bulbous, rap-operatic Géronte—the wealthy man seeking a doctor to cure his daughter, as are Friedman as goth-girl feigned invalid Lucinde and a pop-idol Chivas Michael as her beloved, ‘the fabulous Léandre.’ Julie Briskman is a delight as the titillated wet nurse who catches the fake doctor’s eye. Justine Williams is a bumptious caricature as Sganarelle’s scrappy wife and Liam Craig and Jacob Ming-Trent turn in deft comic duets as Géronte’s servants.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Gleefully ridiculous…Ludicrousness is raised to the level of high art…The pranksters pour Molière into a blender with nonstop boob jokes, hip-hop beats, an Occupy lampoon and, apropos of nothing in particular, ABBA tributes (count ‘em, three!). The shtick flies…From LOL-worthy pop-culture nods to hoary old sight gags, this farce never met a punch line it didn’t like…Shout-outs to everything from Orinda and Rita Moreno to The Music Man come so fast you risk a kitsch hangover.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
“Absolutely hysterical…Watching Epp work his comic magic is such a tremendous pleasure—his Sganarelle, a doofus lumberjack who fools everyone into thinking he’s a doctor, is a master class in how to get laughs by doing just about anything and everything but knowing exactly when and how to do it. Happily, Epp is surrounded by actors and musicians who are as adept as he and having almost as much fun. This is wonderfully stupid comedy played by experts—it feels like a lark, but it’s masterful frivolity…This production is just what the doctor ordered.”—Chad Jones’ Theater Dogs
The Doctor is in!
Get a sneak peek at A Doctor in Spite of Himself and prepare to get your funny bone examined.