The Doctor’s Dilemma at London National Theatre

I’ve got a privilege to be invited to this fabulous play at National Theatre, Southbank, London. It is titled The Doctor’s Dilemma, first staged in 1906, written by Bernard Shaw.

The Doctor's Dilemma

In this play, our main character Sir Colenso is a doctor who has found experimental treatment of tubercolosis and his resources are restricted to ten selected patients. Come into the scene a beautiful young woman Jennifer Dubedat who begs him to help her husband, a brilliant artist who we (and the doctors) find later on to be a man with questionable morality. Added to the dilemma the fact that Sir Colenso is somewhat in love with Jennifer. There’s now a chance for him to play god and let the husband dies. Shall he, shall he not? The doctor’s dilemma!

The 2 hours and 40 minutes play was divided into just 5 long scenes. Lots of dialogues between the several doctors who each has his own opinion on how to run his medical service and profession. Then lots of dialogues between the doctors and the Dubedat man about morality. Clearly Bernard Shaw had lots of messages to say.

Doctor's Dilemma stage

The setting of the stage itself was wonderful. It could possibly be the best stage set I have ever seen so far for plays! It was large and detailed. The lighting was so amazing, such that you could see the sun rays coming into the windows, during daylight, sunset, and night time on stage, as if it was real. The actors and actresses were great and captivating, especially for the three main actors: Dr Colenso (Aden Gillett), Jennifer (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Louis Dubedat (Tom Burke). My companion of the night was totally smitten by Jennifer – beautiful, vulnerable, and strong at the same time.

So who’s this Bernard Shaw?

George Bernard Shaw 1936

Only after the play I learned that Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright (1856-1950), writing more than 60 plays, most addressing social issues, like education, marriage, religion, health care, government, and class privilege (several are quite prominent in The Doctor’s Dilemma!).

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively. Pygmalion is later adapted to the musical My Fair Lady, which later is adapted to the film of the same name, starring Audrey Hepburn! (which received multiple Oscars)

Not only did I get to see the fabulous play, I also got to learn about Bernard Shaw – who I did not know before, admittedly. Thank you the crew and PR for inviting me!

The Doctor’s Dilemma is playing at National Theatre 17 July – 12 September 2012.


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