Discover his inspiration for the children’s story about a cheeky little fellow with big dreams of being in the spotlight.
Following a sold out run at the Almeida, Robert Icke’s adaptation of The Doctor will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre next year. The original version of the play, Professor Bernhardi, was penned in 1912, but during such volatile and divisive times, the themes of identity politics, science versus faith, gender, and class remain relevant as ever.
When a priest arrives to read the last rites to a sick young woman, he is denied entry by Ruth Wolff, the head of the private hospital. The aftermath of this decision divides the practice and subsequently the nation, raising fundamental societal questions and putting a magnifying glass over the potential toxicity of identity politics.
The stoic and stern Professor Ruth Wolff will be reprised by Juliet Stevenson (Mary Stuart, Hamlet, Bend it Like Beckham), but the rest of the cast won’t be revealed until next year.
The Doctor is an impressive production that tackles issues of race, religion, gender and class with a great deal of balance, through a captivating storyline and considered script. In what is a deeply moving play, audiences are shown the human side of those being publicly shamed, which is a rarity in reality. Not only does it call into question how liberally we label people villains, but it also has the power to shift the audience’s perspective and increase their empathy – within the context of the play and beyond.
Both the staging and lighting are minimalistic, with music coming only from a solitary drummer overlooking the action. This enables the focus to remain on the dialogue between a diverse cast, whose race and gender are presented uniquely throughout the show. This is all bound together by the brilliant Juliet Stevenson, who brings complexity to her portrayal of the leading role in this triumphant yet devastating piece of theatre.
“One of the peaks of the theatrical year” ★★★★★ – The Guardian
“Britain’s best director” ★★★★★ – The Telegraph
“[A] devastating play for today” ★★★★★ – The Financial Times
“Provocative, wonderfully upsetting” ★★★★ – Independent
“Juliet Stevenson delivers one of the performances of the year” ★★★★ – The Evening Standard
★★★★★ – The Sunday Times
★★★★★ – WhatsOnStage
★★★★ – The Times
★★★★- The Observer
★★★★ – The Stage
★★★★ – Metro
The show will be running at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 20 April 2020 until 11 July 2020.
The running time is 2 hours 45 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.
Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk