Monday, October 22, 2012

It's A Dilemma at ANW

The Doctor’s Dilemma
Geoff Elliott and Jules Wilcox Photo by Craig Schwartz


A Noise Within continues with its second season in its beautiful new space in Pasadena with G.B. Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma.  The biting wit and social commentary written over a hundred years ago is interestingly contemporary.  Who lives and who dies we pretty much allow the medical profession to decide.  Before the National Health in Great Britain it fell to individuals to take care of their own medical needs,  or else.  Thus, we hear Sir Coleman Ridgeon (Geoff Elliott)  who, with his cronies Sir Patrick Cullen (Apollo Dukakis), Sir Ralph Blomfield Bonington (Robertson Dean) and Cutler Walpole (Freddy Douglas),  discusses the medical issues of the day. Tended by Ridgeon's ever faithful servant (ever crusty Deborah Strang),    Walpole is a germophobe who diagnoses every symptom as blood poisoning. Bonington rants and Cullen, most likely the actual voice of the playwright,  dishes G.B. Shaw as a cynic and holds Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Scientists with disdain as they tend to deny being ill!

Slinky Mrs. Jennifer Dubedat (sly Jules Willcox)  comes to Ridgeon with a plea to save her husband, Louis (Jason Dechert) a skillful artist who is suffering from TB.  However, Ridgeon's friend, Dr. Blenkinsop, also needs his attention. How can he choose who may be more a boon to mankind?  Ridgeon is swayed by his attraction to Jennifer (as are all of his pals).  His dilemma comes down to whom to save.  The sad ethical twist takes a while to be revealed.

At two hours and forty minutes with the intermission, director Dámaso Rodriguez asks a lot from the opening night audience whose enthusiasm throughout was responsive.  Susan Gratch’s sets and again extraordinary attention to skillful scene changes by liveried stage hands is a dance that speaks to the professional approach of Pasadena’s Classical Theatre Company.

Performances are broad. Rodriguez keeps the dialogue rolling, but it’s still an evening approaching three hours in length. Grasping Shaw’s commentary, is possible, but, it could have been done by Moliere in a quick romp, leaving the audience chuckling at the final curtain.

The Doctor’s Dilemma
By George Bernard Shaw
A Noise Within
3352 E. Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
626 356 3100
Tickets  $52 Top
In repertory through December  2012

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