July 29, 2008

‘Good Doctor’ is Prescription for Entertainment

By Catherine Garcia

REDLANDS - "The Good Doctor," a Neil Simon play inspired by Anton Chekhov, is one of five pieces in repertory at the Redlands Theatre Festival.

Simon wrote on Nov. 7, 1977, "'The Good Doctor,' of course, is not a play at all. There are sketches, vaudeville scenes, if you will, written with my non-consenting collaborator, Anton Chekhov. Not the Chekhov of 'The Sea Gull' and 'The Three Sisters,' but the young man who wrote humorous articles for the newspapers to pay his way through medical school."

"The Good Doctor" is directed by Teresa Dolan. The play pieces together several short stories, with just one constant figure, called The Writer (Ron Adams). He introduces and concludes most of the pieces, and during "The Seducer," plays a character in the scene.

The actors were all in more than one scene, with the cast including Cash Morgan, James Muro, Cedric Wright, Heather Stevens, Gina Bernstein, Susan Adams and Haley Keim. They all gave solid performances, and appeared to move effortlessly between each act.

The best scenes of the evening were "Surgery" and "The Sneeze." Both used physical comedy. In the case of "The Surgery," an apprentice dentist chased and ultimately pinned down a priest with a toothache who was afraid of the clueless man, while in "The Sneeze," a lowly parks worker sneezes on the head of his superior while in the audience of the opera, and the actors gave a hilarious, slow- motion re-enactment of the exact moment when the sneeze occurred.

The set was simple; there was a large projection of Chekhov's face on stage, as well as a chair for The Writer. Actors moved in various props while the lights were dimmed to change for each scene. The costumes appeared to be well constructed, and looked good onstage.

There is no better place to enjoy all of the performances than the Avice Meeker Sewall Theater in Prospect Park. Every seat has a great view, and the air is cool by the time the shows start at 8:30 p.m.

"The Good Doctor" will be performed again on Aug. 2, 7, 13, 17 and 22.

For more information on the play and tickets, visit www.rtfseason.org or call (909) 792-0562.

E-mail Staff Writer Catherine Garcia at [email protected]

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