THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA
by George Bernard Shaw.
Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 12 September 2012.
Runs: 2hr 55min One interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 24 July.
Doing well by Shaw.
It’s rarely seen but judging by Nadia Fall’s handsome, subtle production, George Bernard Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma should be given a more regular slot in the theatrical repertoire. Because the problems posited here remain as over-riding as ever. Dodgy medical treatments, over-weaning doctors and more insistently, the question of who is to be given life-saving `treatment’ and who is making the choices?
Shaw, writing at the turn of the century, reflecting what he saw as the pernicious cabal of arrogant physicians and surgeons playing God, was determined to take them to task and in The Doctor’s Dilemma does so partly through the exposure of the questionable intentions of its leading medical character, the recently knighted Sir Colenso Ridgeon (where did he get his names from?).
Without the maniacal flurry of a Molière or Ben Jonson, in Fall’s production the play comes over as a rather sedate satire/ethical debate/paean to the power of Art over conventional society.
There is a very funny scene where the nonconforming artist, Louise Dubedat (Tom Burke) runs rings round the august collection of doctors, enjoying their scandalised horror as, having duped them into believing him a jolly good chap as well as a genius, he one by one destroys their views on sex and morality.
Conducted with Shaw’s usual sly humour and irreverence, his serious intent of showing health being too important to be left in private hands to egotistical doctors working for the profit motive and vulnerable to the wiles of the gentler sex, is never far away.
Over and above the charming, amoral catalyst that is Louis, Shaw deposits the figure of his wife Jennifer Dubedat (a statuesque Genevieve O’Reilly) as the play’s philosophical lynchpin. Benign temptress, artistic acolyte and innocent, it is through her that Shaw delivers his most powerful symbol of romantic integrity – not quite so much of an oxymoron as one might believe.
She carries both the flame of loyalty and in the end a quizzical ambivalence regarding adherence to her husband’s dying instruction to stay beautiful and remarry.
All in all, a meaty repast that does Shaw’s provocations proud.
Emmy: Maggie McCarthy.
Redpenny: William Melchambers.
Sir Colenso Ridgeon: Aden Gillett.
Dr Leo Schutzmacher: Paul Herzberg.
Sir Patrick Cullen: David Calder.
Mr Cutler Walpole: Robert Portal.
Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington: Malcolm Sinclair.
Dr Blenkinsop: Derek Hutchinson.
Jennifer Dubedat: Genevieve O’Reilly.
Louis Dubedat: Tom Burke.
Minnie Tinwell: Amy Hall.
Waiter: Jonathan Coote.
The newspaper man: Samuel Taylor.
Mr Danby: Richard Teverson.
Ensemble: Callum Coates, Aimee Parkes, Joseph Wilkins.
Director: Nadia Fall.
Designer: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Neil Austin.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.
Music: Matthew Scott.
Movement: Jack Murphy.
Company Voice work: Kate Godfrey.
This production of The Doctor’s Dilemma opened at the Lyttelton Theatre London July 24 2012.