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G.B. Shaw Comedy Proves Durable

Roundabout Theatre revival of `Doctor's Dilemma' is amusing, moving. THEATER: REVIEW

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THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA Play by George Bernard Shaw. Directed by Larry Carpenter. At the Roundabout Theatre through Feb. 18. The Roundabout Theatre Company is mounting a spirited and generally attractive production of ``The Doctor's Dilemma.'' When the play premi`ered in 1906, Shaw described it as ``a tragic comedy, with death conducting the orchestra. Yet the play is funnier than most farces.''

The comedy remains, even though its original associations with real-life people and circumstances are recalled today by few others than Shaw biographers and scholars. Shaw's witty attacks on a power elite as well as his examination of romantic illusions and the relationship (if any) between genius and moral integrity have not dated. The tragic comedy retains its power to amuse and stimulate and even to move.

``The Doctor's Dilemma'' opens as Sir Colenso Ridgeon (Charles Keating) is receiving visits from fellow medical men who have come to congratulate him on the knighthood bestowed for his now fashionable cure for tuberculosis. In the convivial atmosphere, the author introduces typical members of what he regarded as the medical trade union.

Each of the visitors espouses some particular form of treatment. They include the ebullient Sir Bloomfield ``B.B.'' Bonington (Jerome Kelty), who confidently believes that science can explain everything; surgically minded Cutler Walpole (Ian Stuart); poor man's Dr. Blenkinsop (Gregg Almquist); Leo Schutzmaccher (Victor Raider-Wexler), who places his faith in phosphates; and Sir Patrick Cullen (George Hall), a senior skeptic, who announces that ``most discoveries are made regularly every 15 years.''

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