Reviewed by Danielle Malone, Gay Community News
This short play marks Wonderland Productions debut at the Gay Theatre Festival. The Love Doctor is a French play performed in English, and it celebrates fantasy, features hilarious costumes, and theatrical fun.
When the heroine of the play, Lucinde (Olivia Poyanne) falls terribly ill with an unexplained melancholy, her father, Sganarelle (Tim Dillard) swears to try absolutely everything in his power to find a cure for her. She admits after much persuasion that she is in love, and wishes to marry her sweetheart. Unfortunately for Lucinde, her over-bearing father will not hear of it, and vows to never give his blessing. Sganarelle wants to have his only daughter close to him, as well as his fortune, so he refuses to consent to her marriage.
Dillard brings a comic dimension to the play, and although he is the villain in the story, he is a lovable character, who connects with the audience almost immediately. This play tells the classic story of the controlling parent, who is ultimately lonely and afraid of losing their child. It is clear how much he loves his daughter, even though he is willing to sacrifice her future happiness for his own selfish reasons. In desperation, he calls for the services of three unscrupulous doctors with questionable credentials. The hapless father squirms and weeps bitterly at their gruesome theories on ‘treatment’. He still maintains, however, that he is willing to try almost any cure, so long as it does not involve giving away his daughters hand in marriage!
Despite the harsh ruling of her father, Lucinde refuses to give up on her wish to marry. The servants of the house have a plan afoot that will allow the love-struck couple to wed. The heroine’s lover enters the house under the watchful eye of her father, posing as an enthusiastic young doctor, and their scheme is set in motion. The couple attempt to seize their opportunity to be together, while trying to outwit the wily Sganarelle. The ensuing chaos that follows is a camp, comedic farce, with lots of laughs along the way.