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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

 
THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA
at the National (Lyttelton)

MORAL CONUNDRUM
By NICK CURTIS

  Aden Gillett, Malcolm Sinclair and Derek Hutchinson/ Ph: Johan Persson

With healthcare a hot political issue in the U.K., as it is in the U.S., this workmanlike revival of George Bernard Shaw’s tale of medical men gains a false gloss of relevance. But though it pokes fun at arrogant, greedy and often lethal physicians, The Doctor’s Dilemma is primarily about the flexibility of morality, and secondarily about love. That Nadia Fall’s production fails to catch fire is not really her fault.

As so often in Shaw, the moral conundrum is laboriously set up, then explored at rigorous, talkative length. Here, Aden Gillet is the doctor who agrees to treat a young artist dying of tuberculosis because he fancies the man’s wife. But the painter, though talented, is a bigamous blackguard. What is owed to duty, to honour and to love? And is good art tainted if it is made by a bad man?

Again, as often with Shaw, this starts off with a lot of men in extravagant beards barking at each other. This is oak-panelling, leather-armchair, toying-with-my-watch-chain acting, although Malcolm Sinclair puts in a winning comic turn as the vain and prolix Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington.

There’s not much spark between Gillet and the willowy Genevieve O’Reilly as Jennifer Dubedat. It’s left to Tom Burke as Dubedat himself to inject some zing into the proceedings. His good looks are here offset by a dazzling, insouciant cheek, and even his rather anachronistic mannerisms – some teenage eye-rolling and faux-faints – seem fitting. 

 


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