In his final production in his role as associate director at the Almeida, Robert Icke has left a little gift. His modernisation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 105-year-old play Professor Bernhardi is a tense medical drama, but it has handed Juliet Stevenson an electrifying role in which she is absolutely mesmerising Read more
Juliet Stevenson stars in Robert Icke’s blistering production of The Doctor, based on the 1912 play Professor Bernhardi by Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler, which transfers to the Duke of York's Theatre in London. The play, which received critical acclaim when it opened at the Almeida Theatre, enjoyed a sold-out run at the North London theatre.
Set in a London hospital, the play focuses on Professor Ruth Woolf, a senior physician who is treating a young patient with sepsis when a priest is sent by the girl’s parents to deliver the last rites. This poses a huge moral dilemma for the doctor, which erupts into a national scandal.
Juliet Stevenson reunites with director Icke after their previous collaborations on plays such as Hamlet and Mary Stuart, both productions for the Almeida which ultimately transferred to the West End. Stevenson, who has also previously appeared in Happy Days, Private Lives and The Heretic, plays the central character in a performance LondonTheatre.co.uk described as “mesmerising”.
The production is Icke’s final as associate director of the Almeida Theatre, bringing to an end a partnership which also produced versions of The Wild Duck, Uncle Vanya, Oresteia, The Fever and Mr Burns. Icke previously works with theatre company Headlong, where he directed the Tony Award-nominated production of George Orwell’s 1984, which also ran in the West End.
Schnitzler’s original play is rarely seen in London – one recent production was at the fringe venue the Arcola Theatre in Dalston in 2005. While it was first performed in 1912 at the Kleines Theater in Berlin, it was banned in the author’s native country until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Icke’s new version modernises the play, setting it in a contemporary hospital, while also posing questions about human’s innate views on identity, perception and bias.