The Theater: The Laughing Cure

Molière was a foe of zealotry, and an apostle of moderation. He regarded the extremist as society's sickest man. Each of his better plays is a kind of psychosocial profile of a man with a raging obsession, a feverishly disordered imagination. He may be a hypocrite, a miser, a misanthrope. In Molière's view, such a man is as mad as a man who claims to be Napoleon; the only cure is a cascade of laughter and the bracing tonic of common sense.

This cure is abundantly present in a splendid Broadway revival of The...

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