Review: The Doctor's Dilemma
The Doctor’s Dilemma addresses the moral problem: if you can only save one person, who do you save? The man who may be morally repugnant but has an amazing talent or one who may not be the best at their chosen profession but is genuinely a lovely person? The issue is complicated further by the doctor having feelings for one of the men’s wife, and looks at how the decision is affected by this.
The play isn’t a completely serious look at this dilemma, and is interspersed with comedy that is of a very distinct style, idiosyncratic to its writer George Bernard Shaw. Shaw originally wrote the play because his friend, the theatre critic William Archer, said that Shaw could not be regarded as a great dramatist unless he had written a play about death. The Doctor’s Dilemma did this, but also took a satirical look at the medical profession, as he looked forward to the creation of a National Health Service (the play was set in 1903 and the NHS was founded in 1948, two years before Shaw’s death).
Overall, The Doctor’s Dilemma was interesting to watch; however it did feel like the opening scene dragged on for too long, adding little to the overall plot. I also found the ending predictable to a large extent, as once you knew what the doctors’ decisions were, it seemed obvious what the consequence would be.
The play itself features a reasonably large cast of around 17 members, and it felt as though many of the cast members had very little to do and that roles could easily have been doubled up. The stage used multiple sets – one main set was initially at the front, which later moved backwards, and another one descended from the ceiling, which was interesting as it was the first time I’d ever seen such a stage change being done.
Although the play was set in the early 20th century, the play could have been set anywhere, and it does leave you questioning how you would work under that situation. Overall the acting and stage management was great, however, the play could have easily been cut down a little with little effect on the plot.
The Doctor's Dilemma is at the National Theatre until 12th September