Writer: Richard Gordon &Ted Wills
Director: Ian Talbot
Reviewer: Steph Rowe
Doctor in the House was originally written in book form and later adapted for the screen by film producer Betty Box. It was quite by accident that she came across the book needing something to occupy her on a tedious train journey that she picked up a copy at Crewe station. The film was released in 1954 turning the young Dirk Bogarde into a true star; it also went on to win a BAFTA for Kenneth Moore as Best British Actor.
Following the exploits of three student doctors as they progress through their chosen career’s, the show sets off on an almost predictable route, while the play is enjoyable enough it never really leaves the realm of clichéd stock characters and rather timid jokes.
Joe Pasquale as Tony Grimsdyke brings plenty of energy to the production lifting it endlessly every time he is on stage. Peter Dunwell also brings plenty of laughter as the hospital porter Bromley, for such a strong actor Robert Powell (Sir Lancelot) is given very little to do in a part that is heavily underwritten, while Alison McKenzie (Ozzy) rings every ounce of a heavily fake Australian accent that she can.
The set suitably evokes of the era of a 70’s flat in a set design by Paul Farnsworth, attention to detail is high from the tatty stained wallpaper to the shag pile rugs on the floor.
At only 45 minutes per act, the production can’t go into the same depths that the film allows leaving the piece to be filled with stock characters and clichéd routines – there are also some fundamental flaws with the adaptation including several instances of moments happening in front of closed curtains, one would imaging this was to change set, but with no noticeable difference it all seems a little superfluous and stilts the action considerably.
Doctor in the House is a warm, gentle comedy but its dated humour makes you think this is a production that is served much better in celluloid than the stage.