Due to Covid-19 related theatre closures, Robert Icke’s (The Wild Duck, Hamlet, Mary Stuart, Oresteia, 1984) Almeida Theatre production, The Doctor, will now be postponed until 2021. Juliet Stevenson, ‘delivering one of the peak performances of the theatrical year’ (The Guardian), will reprise her role as Professor Ruth Wolff as previously announced, with further casting to be confirmed in due course.
Juliet Stevenson said, “Very occasionally in a career, maybe once a decade if you’re lucky, you get the chance to perform in a play that speaks so powerfully to its time that it captures everyone’s hearts and minds. The Doctor did that last year at the Almeida, and was set to do it again in the West End when Covid-19 brought it crashing to a halt – along with almost everything else.
Whilst accepting the inevitable, I was pretty gutted – and am missing the production, the wonderful company, the character, and above all the experience of taking the play out there nightly to new and hungry audiences.
So I am thrilled that we will be back next Spring, and that audiences emerging from their seclusion will have the chance to see it. Rob has written what I think is a great play, in every sense – and as a director he has shaped a piece of theatrical magic. It couldn’t be more pertinent in its exploration of the ethical decisions doctors currently face on the front line today, and of much else besides – of things far beyond the realm of the merely newsworthy….
We will get through this strange and isolating chapter – and then theatre will play a key role in bringing people back together, to share our stories and to celebrate our capacity to roll with the punches and get back up.
When the lights come back on in London’s West End, and in theatres across the UK, I’m hoping that audiences will join us. What a joy it will be to be back on stage and riding The Doctor rollercoaster every night, in dialogue with audiences who’ll have so much to bring to it… as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
The Doctor, by Robert Icke, very freely adapted from Professor Bernhardi by Arthur Schnitzler, has been critically lauded since its opening at the Almeida in August 2019. Robert Icke won the Best Director award for the production, at the 65th Evening Standard Theatre Awards in November 2019 (with Juliet also nominated for Best Actress), while Juliet jointly won the Best Actress award, at this year’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Dr Ruth Wolff.
This is the third West End transfer for Robert Icke and Juliet Stevenson in as many years, following the critical and commercial smash-hit productions of Mary Stuart and Hamlet.