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The Doctor in Spite of Himself

in a new verse adaptation
by Timothy Mooney

Stage Two Theatre Company 2001

"Mooney's witty wordplay and richly rolling rhythms capture the playwright's
zest and the plays confused circumstances." Jenn Goddu, Chicago Reader

 About the Adaptation | Excerpt | Timothy Mooney Bio | Home | Order Copy

About the Adaptation

by Tim Mooney

The Doctor In Spite of Himself (1666) was an attack on doctors, written seven years in advance of The Imaginary Invalid, and was a loosely structured farce, in which a woodcutter, again, by the name of Sganarelle, (Moliere, himself, by the way, played all the Sganarelles) finds himself mistaken for a doctor, when his angry wife plays a trick on him. Of course the patient that he is called in to see is only faking an illness to keep from being married off to someone she doesn't love. In the meantime, however, Sganarelle develops an irresistable urge toward the household's wetnurse, discovering that the disguise of doctor provides a cover for any number of abuses.

One of my favorite lines, by the way, features Sganarelle, repeatedly attempting to get the wetnurse out of her clothes on the pretense of giving her an examination. At one point he goes so far as to offer her an enema, despite the fact that she needs no assistance in that regard. The head of the household, overhearing this, asks:

I don't believe I understand you, doctor.
Why irrigate the girl if nothing's blocked her?

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The Doctor In Spite of Himself
Act II, Scenes 2-4

That's my baby's wetnurse.

A juicy bit of crumpet, I must say ...
(Aloud.) Ah, nurse, my doctorship is but the clay
To which your nurseship gives a shape and form.
Ah, would I were the tot, all snug and warm,
(Putting his hand on her breast.)
Who tastes here at the font of your good graces.
At such abundance, my small art abases.
Would that my skills might by you yet be known ...

Your pardon, sir, please leave my wife alone.

What! Is this girl your wife?

Ay, that she be.

(Going as if to embrace LUCAS, he embraces JACQUELINE instead.)
Oh such a wondrous joy that is to me!
I celebrate your mutual affection.

LUCAS (Drawing SGANARELLE away.)
That's fine, sir, please, not quite such strong inflection.

I do delight to see you so well matched,
I do commend you two, so well attached.
I thrill for her, and risking some redundance,
Salute you, finding wife of such abundance.
(Makes, again, as if to embrace LUCAS, but passes under his arm to throw himself on JACQUELINE.)

LUCAS (Pulling him off again.)
Good Lord, sir! Not so many compliments!
I beg you --

You'd not place impediments
To celebration of how your rare hearts
Should join in blessed union of fair parts.

Ay, celebrate unto your hearts content,
With me, but not my wife to such extent.

I share the joy of both; know, if I clasp
You in such honor, that I also grasp
(Repeating business.) Your lovely wife for such respectful aim,
To fully know the breadth of --

LUCAS (Dragging him away.)
Shame, sir! Shame!
Enough, now, of this manner that you've mocked her!

Act Two, Scene Three

My daughter will be in directly, doctor.

I wait, with my vast medical resource.

Where is it?

SGANARELLE (Touching his forehead.)
Right in here.

Oh, yes, of course!

My interest, sir, is in all of your ilk.
And thus, I must make test of Nurse's milk,
And see to it her breasts are of a nature ...

LUCAS (Drawing SGANARELLE away and spinning him around.)
I'll not be having you to thus engage her!

It's duty, sir, examining the breasts
Of any nurse --

She will not get undressed.

Audacity! Opposing so a doctor!

I'll not stand by until you have unfrocked her.

Be off with you, you backwards foolish lout!

I'll not be off, however you may shout!

SGANARELLE (Looking darkly at him.)
I might infect you with a wicked flu!

JACQUELINE (Pulling LUCAS away and spinning him around.)
Yes, Lucas. That's enough of that from you.
The doctor must perform examination,
To see my body's but his occupation,
And if he must some sight of me endure,
It's nothing that he hasn't seen before.

I don't want him ta touch thee, on my life!

Oh, shame! The rascal's jealous of his wife!

Aha! My daughter, sir.

Act Two, Scene Four

The invalid?

My only daughter. Stricken, God forbid.
Were she to die, my heart would surely break.

Without a doctor's note? Such a mistake!
Such death would be an insubordination!

A chair, here.

Oh, a lovely little patient!
A good, strong man might find a use for her!

You make her laugh.

So much the better, sir.
A patient laughing is a healthy sign.
So what's the problem; what now dulls your shine?
Where is it that you feel this rude affliction?

LUCINDE (Touching her lips, her forehead and under her chin.)
Han, hi, hon, han.

I don't quite grasp your diction.

LUCINDE (Repeating gestures.)
Han, hi, hon, han, han, hi, hon.


Hon, han.

Hon, han? I fear that I don't understand.
What is the meaning of this conjugation?

That is the nature of her perturbation.
We know not where the illness may come from,
But find the girl now struck completely dumb.
Until she's well, her marriage is deferred.

But why?

The husband wished she might be cured,
Before he might agree to make this match.

What idiot might pass on such a catch
Of wife with no capacity to speak?
I'd think twice 'ere a cure that I would seek!
I would to God my wife had been so smote!

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About Timothy Mooney

Tim Mooney has worked in, with and around the theatre for almost thirty years, as an actor, director and playwright, and everything in-between.

Tim received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He went on to internships with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and the Seattle Rep, where he was assistant director to John Dillon and Daniel Sullivan, respectively.

Tim taught acting and stage movement for two years with Northern Illinois University, before creating “The Script Review,” a newsletter that reviewed some 700 plays in manuscript form over the course of seven years, distributed to Literary Managers and Directors all over the United States. As a director, Tim’s production of “Secret Obscenities” was one of five winners at the Bailiwick Directors’ Festival in Chicago.

From there, Tim stepped in as Artistic Director of the Stage Two Theatre Company, where he produced nearly fifty plays in five years, most of them original works.

When Stage Two turned to the classics, Tim adapted his own sparkling rhymed, iambic-pentameter versions of the plays of Moliere creating fifteen new Moliere plays in seven years. Stage Two produced “Tartuffe,” “The Miser,” “The Schemings of Scapin,” “The Misanthrope,” “The Doctor in Spite of Himself” and “Sganarelle,” and companies around the world picked up on these plays too, with productions all across the United States, as well as Canada and even India. U.S. venues included the Pasadena Shakespeare Festival, M.I.T., Wayne State University and Universities of Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio and many more.

Tim’s writing work brought him full circle, back in front of the footlights as a performer, playing the lead role in many of the works he had written. (In fact, all of the roles in which he now found himself cast were the parts that Moliere himself had originated!) This was to give Tim the impetus for a one-man show, “Moliere Than Thou” (Best Adapted Work, San Francisco Fringe Fest). The play serves as a quick introduction to some of Moliere’s greatest works and speeches, and has been seen all over the U.S. and Canada. It has given tens of thousands of students their first exposure to Moliere, and along the way Tim has taught thousands of students in his workshops, introducing the concepts further developed in his upcoming text, “Acting at the Speed of Life,” as well as his collection of Moliere Monologues.

Most recently, Tim has further refined the art of the one-person show, creating a one-man Sci-Fi Thriller, “Criteria,” (Artistic Picks Finalist, Seattle Fringe Fest), as well as “Karaoke Knights” a “One Man Rock Opera.”

Tim continues to write new versions of the plays of Moliere, novels, short stories, songs, children’s stories and screenplays.

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