Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Play House Cast Dissects Doctors
Cleveland Press November 14, 1963
Substitute the word ether for chloroform, toss in reference to penicillin and cortisone, replace the Edwardian costumes with modern dress and this play might have been written yesterday, not in 1906.
"The Doctor's Dilemma" is George Bernard Shaw's witty, satirical attack on the medical profession. Along the way he also tossed a few barbs at morality, the Englishman's attitude toward debt and newspaper reporters.
It is one of GBS' most dialectic dramas, yet extremely playable and enjoyable as done by this Play House cast.
Shaw has peopled his play with caricatures of extreme types in medicine -- the quack who guarantees cures, the fashionable surgeon who performs one type of operation -- and one type only -- and argues that it will cure everything, the needle-happy medical man who believes that massive doses of antitoxin, any anti-toxin, will cure anything.
IT'S A STACKED deck and Shaw shuffles it skillfully.
The dilemma that Shaw poses is one in which a doctor is forced to choose between saving a talented artist who is also an amoral lout, or a struggling, impoverished general practitioner who is valuable only in his own little community.
Complicating the choice is the artist's pretty wife, whom the doctor covets.
The Play House company is good throughout, but it is William Paterson who has the best part and steals the show. He portrays a longwinded practitioner, the antitoxin fellow, who is extremely sure of himself.
TRUE the lines he has would be funny in the hands of anyone who could read them capably. But Paterson gives them more a straight reading. Voice and movements are used skillfully to milk every last laugh from the role.
Robert Allman is the doctor with the dilemma and he gives the part the right mixture of stature and honest puzzlement.
Charles Keating has his moments as the charming, rascally artist and Margaret Victor looks and acts like a woman who could turn a man's head.
But the real star of the evening remains Shaw, a supreme dramatist who could provide every conceivable point of view within the framework of a play and keep it sounding like a play -- not a sociological discourse.