A timeless treatise on today’s healthcare debate?
|Written by George Bernard Shaw
directed by Robert Scogin
DCA Studio Theatre, 78 E. Washington (map)
thru May 10th | tickets: $10-$22 | more info
By Katy Walsh
Who to save? If allotted only enough serum to cure one patient, how to choose who is worthy of it? ShawChicago, in conjunction with DCA Studio Theatre in the Cultural Center, presents Doctor’s Dilemma. Illustrating a lifelong disdain for the healing profession, George Bernard Shaw pens a comedy about doctors debating the sanctity of healthcare for a price. Under the enchantment of a pretty lady, four doctors struggle with the decision to save her charming husband or their bumbling colleague.
Although Shaw first produced the play in 1906, his viewpoints are still prevalent one hundred years later. Economics still influences healthcare in adequate coverage for the poor and research interests of the wealthy. Doctor’s Dilemma illustrates the timeless issues of healthcare and arrogant doctors; ShawChicago injects a talented cast. The result is a robust tonic sure to cure any ailment.
In the ShawChicago tradition, the show is a public reading. No costumes. No scenery. It’s just Shaw, Scogin and the ensemble. Under the direction of Robert Scogin, the entire cast adds their own version of razzle-dazzle. The doctors are a variety of superior condescension. Jack Hickey (Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington) is hilarious as the know-it-all physician with one basic prescription, “stimulate the phagocytes.” Hickey is riotous rambling his lunatic theories then stopping abruptly to utter “I’ve lost the thread of my conversation.” Will Clinger (Cutler Walpole) is in turn outrageous with his repeated diagnosis of ‘blood poisoning’ and his declaration that he is, “not a doctor. I’m a surgeon.” Skip Lundby (Sir Patrick Cullen) is the delightful retired doctor who starts an argument with, “when you’ve killed as many people as I have…” Matt Pen (Sir Colenso Ridgeon) is the smug bachelor with the God complex. The patient is Christian Gray (Louis Dubedat). Gray is the fast-talking scoundrel and the arrogant match for the doctors. In his immorality justification, Gray argues that lawyers threaten prison, parsons threaten damnation and doctors threaten death. Gray is deliciously unapologetic for his rogue ways. Barbara Zahora (Jennifer Dubedat) is the loyal wife and object of the doctors’ affections as she pleads for healthcare for her husband. In smaller roles but with superior accents, Mary Michell (Emmy) and Kaelan Strouse (Newspaper Man/Mr. Darby) are outstanding.
Sixteen years ago, ShawChicago started its artistic initiative with Doctor’s Dilemma in the DCA Studio Theatre in the Cultural Center. Back then, it was Clinton and healthcare. Now, it’s Obama and healthcare. But then and now and since 1906, Doctor’s Dilemma is a Shaw timeless classic.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a ten minute intermission.
BEFORE THE SHOW
I’ve struggled to find brunch spots for weekend matinees downtown. Today, I lucked out by stopping en route at Old Town’s swanky 33 Club, 1419 N. Well Streets. I had previously been to this Jerry Kleiner restaurant for dinner. Recently, they started offering a brunch option so I wanted to sample the menu. Trying to initiate a brunch appetizer trend, Dick and I start with the whole wheat pancakes with caramelized bananas. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious! They are so moist and tasty, the side of maple syrup is truly optional. Our server, Todd, names the fried egg sandwich as one of his favorites. His recommendation convinces me. The fried egg arrives on Tuscany bread with bacon, lettuce and tomato and a smear of gorgonzola cheese. The gorgonzola is a little sharp for me. The combination of the other fresh ingredients is plentiful enough. I’d definitely order it again but may ask to substitute a milder cheese. Dick has the mozzarella, tomato and basil omelet. It’s served with roasted potatoes and whole wheat toast. He finishes every delicious bite with flourish. The service was excellent. The atmosphere is classic Kleiner with flashy bordello touches in upscale elegance. Brunch is a great opportunity to experience 33 Club at a less expensive price point. One word of warning: save room for dessert! I regret not being able to sample the red velvet cake. Maybe next weekend!