The Good Doctor. April 2012

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The Good Doctor poster

A comedy with music by Neil Simon

18-21 and 24-28 April 2012 at 20:00: Sunday 22 April at 17:00 | Krudttønden, Serridslevvej 2, 2100 KBH Ø

Neil Simon, Broadway’s master of comedy, elegantly weaves several of Chekhov’s short stories into a theatrical experience that ranges from laugh-out-loud comedy, through ridiculous slapstick and heart-warming musical numbers, to tender and bittersweet vignettes of life at the turn of the 20th century.

After a dozen years of serving up slick comedies, The Good Doctor was a departure for Neil Simon when it premiered in 1973. Simon preserves Chekhov’s subtle yet powerful style in a pastiche of tales that swing from rumbustious clowning and farce, to hints of melodrama, to intimate and poignant studies of everyday life. And often these elements are combined to bring that special insight into the characters that distinguishes the way in which Chekhov conveys emotional complexity through economical use of language.

We laughed uproariously at the plight of an obsequious clerk who sneezes on his boss at the theatre, and that of a bank manager with gout who is plagued by an apparently insane woman, and that of a cleric with agonising toothache at the mercy of an enthusiastic yet incompetent medical student. We chuckled knowingly at the antics of a swaggering Lothario attempting to seduce another man’s wife, and two war veterans continuing their rivalry at a weekly rendezvous on a park bench. And we were moved by a chance meeting of two lonely old people in a park and by a provincial actress auditioning for a role in one of the Master’s productions. All of these stories were introduced by Chekhov himself as the Narrator, who presented them to the audience with a twinkle in his eye and the enthusiasm and enjoyment with which he brings his characters to life.

This was the perfect choice for those looking for a light, funny, yet thoughtful evening of entertainment. If you thought you knew Chekhov, you came and saw an alternative side of him. And if you didn’t know Chekhov at all, Neil Simon’s masterpiece was a sublime introduction.

Frank Theakston