Reviews are coming in for The Doctor at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.
Juliet Stevenson stars in the much delayed West End transfer which originally ran at the Almeida Theatre in 2019.
In the play, Ruth Wolff (Juliet Stevenson) is a secular Jew who runs a leading medical institute. When Ruth prevents a priest from seeing a 14-year-old girl who is dying from a self-administered abortion, the incident goes viral on social media, provoking petitions and TV debates, jeopardising both Ruth’s future, and that of the institute. The piece is freely adapted by Robert Icke from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 Viennese ‘comedy’ Professor Bernhardi.
The cast features Doña Croll (The Heresy of Love), Juliet Garricks (100 Paintings), Preeya Kalidas(Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), John Mackay (Oresteia), Matilda Tucker (The Snow Queen) and Sabrina Wu, Christopher Colquhoun (The Lion King), Mariah Louca (Best Of Enemies), Daniel Rabin (King Lear), Naomi Wirthner (An Evening At The Talkhouse) and Hannah Ledwidge on drums.
In addition to Icke, the play’s creative team includes design by Hildegard Bechtler, lighting by Natasha Chivers, sound and composition by Tom Gibbons and casting by Julia Horan.
Tickets to The Doctor at the Duke of York’s Theatre
The Doctor reviews
"A repeat prescription for acute intellectual stimulation"
"Robert Icke’s combative 2019 play about medical ethics, identity politics and antisemitism returns to the West End to divide and challenge audiences"
"It is often static in its action, abrasive in its tone and revels in its flagrant theatricality. Yet the effects are slowly, searingly electric and you are unlikely to see anything in the West End that comes with the same amounts of tension, combative intellectual complexity and sheer bare-toothed drama"
" the themes of this play chime louder than ever in a time when racial and antisemitic bigotries thrive and identity politics have become the stuff of gladiator fights."
"The Doctor eschews binaries and turns into a richly layered thing, as bigger racial, religious and gender politics come into play. "
"Juliet Stevenson is riveting in this brilliant interrogation of cancel culture"
"The Doctor hurtles a neglected classic of Austrian drama from an early-20th-century Vienna simmering with anti-Semitism to a 21st-century London beset by those same prejudices and complex layers of identity politics too."
"Though she avoids being sympathetic, her line of thinking is seductive – and such is the actress’s beady focus that we’re with her, thought by thought: “A ‘woke’ perspective? … The use of language makes one want to cry... "
"At almost three hours, it’s a long evening, yet it’s a hugely rewarding one too. And in its stimulating experimentalism, it’s just what the doctor ordered to help resuscitate the cerebral life of our post-viral, musically bloated West End."
"Juliet Stevenson stuns in the play of the decade"
"It is the most politically pertinent play of the decade. And if pertinence is fine and dandy but not necessarily a prompt to engage a babysitter, know that The Doctor is also an involving, stimulating, moving, handsomely staged and exquisitely acted night at the theatre. Juliet Stevenson’s stunning lead performance helps it to do what so few plays have managed: find knotty drama in the shifting certainties and power grabs of identity politics."
"It is a complex, provocative evening that is rich in empathy and intelligence alike."
"Juliet Stevenson is at the top of her game"
"A very potent evening in the theatre"
"No play in the past 10 years has felt more tense, challenging, and intellectually provoking than this one."
"Icke’s production, first staged at the Almeida in 2019, features a bracingly rigorous central performance from Juliet Stevenson, while most of the rest of the cast play against their own apparent gender and/or ethnicity, forcing us constantly to question our assumptions and innate prejudices. All this, and it unfolds with the mordant purpose of a thriller too."
"Juliet Stevenson is all ice and fire in an immensely timely study of identity politics"
"It’s all in the casting. Rarely has this been more completely the case than in Robert Icke’s intellectually bracing The Doctor. Taking the skeleton of Professor Bernhardi, Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 play about identity and antisemitism, Icke relocates it from Vienna to London, and into the epicentre of contemporary identity and responsibility debates, via arrestingly non-literal casting."
"As the noose tightens around the powerfully controlling Dr Wolff, Stevenson commands the stage on Hildegard Bechtler’s blond wood, clinical set. She digs ever deeper, with long-suppressed fury increasingly bursting through her crisp, white-coated intellectual superiority. And in the somewhat recast transfer of the 2019 Almeida production, she is balanced by an ensemble who are mostly, although not quite all, equally adept at grading their fury."
"Easy answers come under scrutiny again in Robert Icke’s The Doctor. The pandemic delayed its transfer to the West End from the Almeida but, if anything, the intervening years, and the raging arguments about lockdowns and vaccination, have only sharpened its relevance."
"Icke’s drama plays out like a thriller, balancing principle against pragmatism and faith against reason, spinning a cat’s cradle of personal ambitions and agendas. He and director Anthony Almeida cleverly extend that to the audience with casting choices that pull the rug from under us, making us re-evaluate our assumptions"
"Visionary director Robert Icke returns as Juliet Stevenson reprises her colossal 2019 performance"
"... it’s bloody good to have ‘The Doctor’ back. It clicked with me more the second time. But also it’s a simple case of not appreciating what you’ve got until it’s gone. And Icke has been gone too long."
"Stevenson is magnificent as Wolfe, but she’s so Teflon-coated in the first half that it’s hard to exactly feel sorry for her. And though Icke has smartly linked a 110-year-old play with modern ideas of cancel culture, I’m not exactly clear about what he’s trying to say about it"
"It’s a magnificently tense production, with a superb live drum soundtrack from musician Hannah Ledwidge, perched theatrically up above the stage"