The long awaited transfer of Robert Icke’s production has finally opened in the West End. But what have critics had to say about it?
Broadway World: ***** “Icke’s intelligent play offers a deeply thought-provoking and moving take on the instant weaponisation of identity markers in our contemporary moment, especially when those markers enter intersectional relationships with one another.”
Evening Standard: **** “But he also seems to think about things 10 times more deeply than most directors, while also possessing a singular control of stagecraft. The revelation of each supporting character’s “real” (ie fictional) ethnicity or gender is done with microscopic skill. I’ve never felt more thoroughly and usefully wrong-footed by a play, even though I’ve seen it before. An Icke production always involves an expansion of the mental horizons.”
The Guardian: ***** “Juliet Stevenson plays the doctor with counterintuitive brilliance, starting at top volume and dialling down to present the quiet tragedy of a remarkable doctor who bears the fatal flaw of arrogance.”
The Telegraph: ***** “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.”
The Reviews Hub: **** 1/2 “Icke’s interest as a theatre-maker is not in taking sides in an ongoing debate about what some newspapers like to call ‘wokeness’. Indeed, the sense here is more of a writer trying to find a way of bringing people together, one that accommodates seemingly incompatible belief systems. Hildegard Bechtler’s slowly revolving set means we quite literally get to see all sides in the many ins and outs of well-structured story. The writing is fastidiously fair to all sides. Icke never lets Wollf of the hook for her miscalculations and, at its heart, this is a story of hope.”
WhatsOnStage: **** “Just like its protagonist, then, you could say that Icke’s work has, in a small way, been the victim of circumstance. But Juliet Stevenson’s unquenchable, indefatigable performance is transcendent. It has to be seen to be believed.”
Culture Whisper: ***** “The Doctor is every bit a play of the moment. It indirectly draws on the ongoing antisemitism rows and the fight for abortion rights seen in Ireland and further afield. It also calls to the stand political correctness and the dangers of social media witch-hunts. Above all, it’s a play about identity; about race, gender, sexuality and religion, and the role of our birth identity versus that which we forge for ourselves by choice.”
The Arts Desk: **** “It’s a sharp-tongued vivisection of identity politics, anchored by an astonishing lead performance from Juliet Stevenson.”
West End Best Friend: ***** “The Doctor expertly does what many theatre pieces try and fail to do; it sparks debates between audience members from the interval to days beyond. Who was in the right? Can doctors show neutrality? Should we treat others differently and make allowances for individuals because of their protected characteristics? The play itself is an engrossing 2 hours and 45 minutes of theatre, and it’s equally fascinating to listen to other audience members discuss the themes as they leave the Duke of York’s Theatre. The continuation of our own conversations makes this a very clever and impactful piece. This is a rare gem of a play, fascinating and thought-provoking, certain to segment in audiences’ memories for years to come.”
The Stage: **** “Juliet Stevenson is all ice and fire in an immensely timely study of identity politics.”
The Doctor continues to play at the Duke of York’s Theatre. You can book tickets here.