|Heidi Silberman and Immi Irvine.|
Limbo Theatre has chosen well with The Good Doctor. Neil Simon’s adaptation of Chekhov short pieces suits actors wanting to stretch their performing muscles. Seven younger performers are joined by director James Scott in what turns out to be a gentle succession of perceptive tales, given some sensitive and amusing treatment.
It’s a nineteenth century Russian world, although the costuming sometimes only barely hints at that. A rustic proscenium arch and curtains and a rather strange beige shade of lighting perhaps helps to suggest the sepia world of old photos. It’s a world where behaviour and social mores are examined with humour. There’s a lot to be learned about human nature.
Izaac Beach leads the others with some authority in a convoluted comic tale about a young man who sneezes on a general (Scott) and whose attempts to explain and apologise only land him in worse trouble.
A mistress (Heidi Silberman) tests a poor downtrodden governess (Immi Irvine) in a rather cruel way to see if she can stand up for herself. It’s a tensely done two hander.
There are tensions between a not-quite–qualified doctor ( Anneka van der Velde) and a very reluctant dental patient (Nick Steain)
Hayden Splitt demonstrates the pitfalls of seduction in a piece about how to successfully woo a married woman.
James Scott and Splitt show a bank manager and employee crumbling in the face of a woman with an agenda (Heidi Silberman). The scene escalates very well indeed. The Defenceless Woman? Hardly.
Beach and Scott are touching in a son/father scene about the father wanting to push the son toward a maturity for which he may not be ready. A cynical prostitute (Silberman) clearly agrees about the maturity.
The Drowned Man is a gem of a piece about a strange nocturnal form of narrative theatre run by a strange young man (Beach) for the apparent amusement of a truculent passer by (Steain).
But it’s The Audition, where a young actress from Odessa (Irvine) woos the playwright director by doing all three sisters and doing them very well indeed that maybe moves the most.
And it’s Damon Baudin who holds the whole show (really just a set of sketches) together so gracefully as the writer/narrator with more than a passing resemblance to Chekhov, the Good Doctor himself.