THEATER REVIEW: The Doctor is Well Worth a Visit

I don’t like going to the theater to be “lectured” at all, but very occasionally one comes across a play that provokes thought and greater enlightenment.

Critically acclaimed Robert Icke’s The Doctor, currently on tour at Bath’s Theater Royal until Saturday 17 September before moving to London’s West End, is one such play.

At the end of the first act, a Jewish doctor denies a Catholic priest access to a young teenage patient against her parents’ wishes. From this singular action, the following four acts retrace the political and institutional repercussions that ensue.

Based on the bones of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 play Professor Bernhardi in the adaptation of Icke, the Jew doctor Bernhardi becomes a wife, Ruth Wolff.

The Doctor begins with a fairly simple examination of medical ethics, but the issues become much more nuanced and problematic, with the black Catholic priest being played by a white actor (John Mackay) and the girl dying of sepsis after a self-abortion. -administered sloppy. .

Icke quickly expands The Doctor into an intense exploration of whether medicine can be the basis for a rational, humanistic worldview in which the current climate of “woke” identity politics is irrelevant.

It features a renowned medical institution torn by religious and racial differences, by anti-Semitism, careerism and political intrigue, though some of the issues are explored with too much emphasis.

As the social media storm gathers pace, Wolff is accused of wrongdoing by her fellow doctors and is persuaded to appear on a trial entertainment TV show.

Here she is accused of employing a disproportionate number of Jewish women in the institute she founded to treat dementia.

Juliet Stevenson as the Doctor gives a heartfelt performance as she reprises her lead role in the five-star London production of Icke, which was originally seen at the Almeida Theater in 2019.

On tour with a partly renewed cast, this new production is by turns overwhelming, disturbing and wonderfully provocative. He certainly had Tuesday’s audience clutching their seats.

It deliberately mixes gender identity and racial ethnicity, leaving audiences slightly confused at times. It certainly left me with a better appreciation for some of today’s awakening issues.

The Doctor has designs by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Natasha Chivers and sound and composition by Tom Gibbons and is well worth a visit.

Tickets are on sale at the Theater Royal Bath box office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk

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