Special to the Bulletin

A rumor circulating for the last 300 or so years suggests that Molière is dead, the victim of a fit of coughing amid the performance of his final play, “The Imaginary Invalid.” Mo-lière is alive and better than ever, and performing under the name Timothy Mooney.

Not only is Molière still alive, but, in “Molière Than Thou,” coming to Howard Payne University Saturday, he speaks English, and is every bit as insightful, irreverent and enthusiastic as the first time around.

“Molière Than Thou” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the HPU Theatre. The cost is $5, and is free for HPU faculty, staff and students.

No reservations are needed.

Mooney’s affinity with Molière goes beyond the manic performance of 10 of his monologues. Mooney has re-written 15 of Molière’s plays in their entirety, showing that Molière can be just as dazzling in English as in the original French.

Because of this language barrier, Molière has never been as well-known outside of theatrical circles as his Renaissance brother, William Shakespeare. “Molière Than Thou” finds a Molière who stands toe-to-toe with Shakespeare, trading brilliant couplets late into the night.

In the course of his 90-minute one-man play, Mooney seduces the audience with a complexity of language that is a sensual delight. Parading through the best-loved plays of France’s history, “Molière Than Thou” reinvigorates renaissance theatre, the court of Louis XIV, and the vision which generated some of the most beloved plays of all time. Plus, it’s funny. Molière enjoyed language and the comical situation better than any other in his time.

Tim Mooney Repertory Theatre has Mooney on the road nine months of the year doing not only “Molière Than Thou” but two other one-man shows, “Criteria” and “Karaoke Knights.” In addition to the performances, Mooney also does many workshops for high school and university students on classical acting, the life of Molière and others.

Area high school students and college/university students are invited to a workshop on the life of Molière at 3 p.m. Saturday in the HPU Theatre prior to the performance of “Molière Than Thou” that evening.

Mooney’s performance won a “Best of” award from the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and was listed first of the “Top Ten Artistic Events of 2006” from the Chattanooga Pulse.