The Doctor's Dilemma

George Bernard Shaw

The Doctor's Dilemma

Harley Street doctor Sir Colenso Ridgeon’s revolutionary tuberculosis treatment remains experimental and his resources restricted to ten selected patients. The arrival of the striking and persuasive Jennifer Dubedat, desperate to save the life of her brilliant artist husband, nevertheless prompts Ridgeon to invite the young couple to a dinner where he and his colleagues may assess the merits of the case. Beguiled by the charismatic Dubedat and his lovely wife, they concur that his is a life worth saving, even at the expense of another. Yet no sooner are the medics congratulating themselves in their decision, than they are confronted by Dubedat’s questionable morality. 3.5 out of 5 based on 10 reviews
The Doctor's Dilemma

Omniscore:

Location London
Venue National, Lyttelton
Director Nadia Fall
Cast Tom Burke, David Calder, Robert Portal, Malcolm Sinclair, Genevieve O'Reilly, Maggie McCarthy, William Belchambers, Paul Herzberg, Derek Hutchinson, Amy Hall, Jonathan Coote, Samuel Taylor, Aden Gillett
From July 2012
Until September 2012
Box Office 020 7452 3000
 

Harley Street doctor Sir Colenso Ridgeon’s revolutionary tuberculosis treatment remains experimental and his resources restricted to ten selected patients. The arrival of the striking and persuasive Jennifer Dubedat, desperate to save the life of her brilliant artist husband, nevertheless prompts Ridgeon to invite the young couple to a dinner where he and his colleagues may assess the merits of the case. Beguiled by the charismatic Dubedat and his lovely wife, they concur that his is a life worth saving, even at the expense of another. Yet no sooner are the medics congratulating themselves in their decision, than they are confronted by Dubedat’s questionable morality.

Reviews

The Stage

Jonathan Lovett

Ridgeon’s three eminent doctor friends provide most of these laughs and a quartet at the top of their game spark off each other to create an invigorating tonic. Gillett, Malcolm Sinclair, David Calder and Robert Portal send up their self-important characters without slipping into caricature to prove this one of Shaw’s funniest plays, while Burke performs the tricky feat of making us care for a dislikeable rogue who is ultimately a pawn in a morbid medical conspiracy.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Times

Libby Purves

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh”. The line at the heart of George Bernard Shaw’s play defines a sparkling, funny, serious production rich in character, philosophy, deep feeling, hilarious absurdity and angry wit. You could equally observe that a 1906 play can feel fresh even when staged in full Edwardiana complete with bursts of crackly Traviata, a huge leather Chesterfield in the first half and a romantic artist’s garret in the second. Nadia Fall’s first solo direction here is a triumph.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Michael Billington

Often thought of as a cold fish, Shaw is in fact full of emotional complexity, as Fall's production beautifully shows. Everything in the play's action confirms Shaw's thesis that private doctors are "ignorant licensed murderers", yet they also prove highly entertaining company – most especially Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington, whom Malcolm Sinclair plays superbly as a frock-coated, poker-backed, Shakespeare-misquoting obsessive and ambulatory death's head. The moment when he agrees to take on Dubedat's case acquires a distinct chill. The myth of Shaw's sexlessness is also put to bed, almost literally, by the intensity of the physical relationship between Tom Burke's Dubedat and Genevieve O'Reilly's Jennifer: the former may be a rogue, the latter a romantic idealist, but the two excellent actors leave you feeling – as Shaw surely intended – that there is more true worth in their passion than in all the posturings of the medical moralists.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Observer

Susannah Clapp

The dilemma of Shaw's play is both acute and enduring. The production may look exquisitely timed but there is almost no moment in the last 100 years when it would not have seemed so. In any case, Shaw's real interest goes deeper: he is exposing the medical profession not only as a group of quarrelling quacks but a bunch of humans made venal by the system of private medicine. His play was a plea for a national health service.

29/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Maxie Szakwinska

How do you weigh the worth of a life? The Doctor’s Dilemma isn’t deeply satisfying Shaw — too much speechifying about medical ethics — yet the play still abounds in glossy epigrams, and Nadia Fall’s production is diligent.

29/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Independent on Sunday

Holly Williams

The Doctor's Dilemma is staged well, but the play isn't one thing or the other. The black cynicism and gallows humour are enjoyable, but the doctors' blasé attitudes, tragi-comic deathbed scenes, and unappealing characters mean that, in both love and death, the stakes don't feel very high. It neither tugs at the heart strings nor fully tickles the funny bone, making positive diagnosis tricky.

29/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Evening Standard

Henry Hitchings

It begins unappealingly, with a lot of stodgy exposition. Some rather broad acting and Shaw’s close interest in medical technicalities make for a heavy first half hour. But as the humour darkens, it becomes more engaging.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

Quentin Letts

Shaw examines one position then another, like Arthur Negus peering at an antique chamberpot from every angle. You need patience.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Dominic Cavendish

It should more blackly funny, more gut-wrenching, more scalpel-sharp than alas it is. Shaw excels at a surface diagnosis of professional ills but proves curiously cack-handed in getting under the skin of his principal characters and giving them meaningful emotional life ... Nadia Fall’s revival lends the work an air of lasting importance, thanks in part to a monumental design from Peter McKintosh, which magicks Georgian grandeur and a full-sized garret with a finesse that makes your mouth open wide. But there’s little disguising the fact that as drama, it’s shallow-breathing stuff and sometimes painfully inert.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Ian Shuttleworh

Each of these three principals seems to have decided that they are the core and viewpoint character. True, Burke enjoys a fairly rollicking Act Three, in which he twits the priggish moralising of the doctors in a characteristically Shavian way, but in the following act he is predominantly back to tragic earnestness on his deathbed. And yet even here the jokes keep popping out, and Fall’s direction can reconcile neither the differing strains of writing nor the divergent approaches to characterisation.

25/07/2012

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore