By Eve Fisher
Your Local Court Jester
PETERBOROUGH — The shortness of breath I experienced while watching The Doctor’s Dilemma at the Peterborough Players was thankfully not due to blood poisoning, but the show taking my breath away. Whether it be by way of laughing so hard or holding my breath and sitting on the edge of my seat, the show certainly took my breath away.
The Doctor’s Dilemma is a play by George Bernard Shaw and was first staged in 1906. The play centers around the moral dilemma of a doctor on which patient to save over the other. The extremely talented artist who’s an awful scoundrel or his young colleague, a genuinely good and honest man with no such talents as the artist.
For a play that deals with life and death and some serious moral questions, it’s actually extremely funny. The Doctor’s Dilemma is way funnier than I ever expected it to be. But when things got serious, they got serious. The audience was wrapped up in the mood of the story the whole way. When things were light there was raucous laughter and when things got heavy you could hear a pin drop. It’s a clever way to go when on a topic of disease and death, it makes the audience much more comfortable with exploring the grey moralities of this play.
The Doctor’s Dilemma stars Karron Graves, who previously took to the Players stage in productions of Pygmalion and The Ladies Man, and David Haugen, who was in the Players productions of Seagull, Tartuffe.
The show features a cast of interesting characters, including a group of Doctors (whom I affectionately began to call “The Doctor Clique”) all of whom end up debating over methods of healing and later over who should be saved and who shouldn’t. The characters within “the Doctor Clique” have a delightful group dynamic that goes from being slightly passive aggressive colleagues to becoming a sort of brothers in arms, brought together by the greater dilemma.
Haugen plays newly knighted doctor Sir Colenso Ridgeon, the doctor with aforementioned dilemma and our protagonist, stands as the plays mind, being all logic but also selfish. Graves plays the devoted wife to the artist, Jennifer Dubedat, who stands as the heart, completely selfless and yet unable to see the truth. The two characters provide strong contrast and the tension so thick you can cut it with a knife, which actor’s Haugen and Graves really brought to life with their performances.
The performances all around were strong, no weak link in sight. I could probably go on more about this show and how funny and compelling every single character is, but honestly that would ruin the show and you should definitely just go see it and enjoy it yourself.
The play is directed by Artistic Director Gus Kaikkonen and is Rated PG.
The Doctor’s Dilemma runs Aug. 16 through 27 and is sponsored by Belletetes.
Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4:00 p.m. There is also an additional matinee performance on Tuesdays at 2 p.m.
There are Talkbacks with the cast following the first Friday and Sunday performances and a Cabaret following the performances on Saturdays.