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A DOCTOR IN SPITE OF HIMSELF (article first published : 2004-05-30)

Durban will get a rare chance to see a work by one of theatre’s most acclaimed comedy writers of all time when the Durban Institute of Technology’s Drama department stages Moliere’s A Doctor In Spite of Himself at the Courtyard Theatre.

This timeless comedy/farce is about a woodcutter forced into admitting to being a doctor as part of his wife’s revenge for beating her. Moliere takes a somewhat dim view of professionals – doctors, lawyers and academics in particular – and they come in for some unkind ridicule in his plays. Moliere claims “It is the best of all professions because if you do any good or not you still get the money. If we make a mistake it is not our fault, it is always the fault of the fellow who’s dead and the dead are decent people, they never complain against the doctor who killed them!”

Although shorter than some of Moliere’s other more well-known plays, this one is no less comical with its pacy, racy dialogue, comic business and stock characters. Moliere uses characters to represent types. The characters, the situations the dialogue and the comedy are not meant to be realistic, they are quite fantastic and bizarre – reminiscent of the Marx Brothers but occurring over 300 years earlier.

“A characteristic of the comedy is the suspension of the natural laws of probability and logic,” says the publicity material. “Actions do not have the consequences they have in real life. A character is hit with a fierce whack and we laugh, because we know that it does not hurt anything but his/her pride. In a contemporary context however, this kind of “violence” needs to be handled carefully, especially so when a husband beats his wife.”

A Doctor In Spite of Himself is directed by Robin Singh who has been in theatre for the past 30 years in over 40 productions, including directing for the Playhouse Company, Theatre in Education and community theatre. He also played Max Naidu in the television series Generations. He lectured in drama at UDW for 25 years, then lectured at ML Sultan Technikon and in 2004 was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in the Drama Studies Department at DIT.

A Doctor In Spite of Himselfruns at the Courtyard Theatre from May 29 to June 5 nightly at 19h00 (except Sundays) at The Courtyard Theatre, DIT, Mansfield Road.

Tickets R30 (R15 scholars & students). Book on 031 204 2194.




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