nytheatre.com review by Andre Lancaster
August 27, 2009
It's the summer of 2009 and there seems to be just as much going on inside the medical offices of Greendale, G.P. as there is outside its doors: ego-driven professionals, violence against women, the failures of the medical industrial complex, and waning cultural values are just a few of the larger circumstances that pop out of Brad Saville's new satire. But rest assured there's more going on in this baby.
Let it be known that the artists of Eastwind Theatre Company seem sincere at their attempt to put these big and urgent ideas on stage. However, sincerity notwithstanding, focusing on one or two of those circumstances or properly threading them all together would have served their cause just fine.
Early on in Greendale, G.P., Mr. Myrtle, an elderly man in need of medical attention, causes a scene. Frustrated at the length of his wait to see his doctor, he storms out of the medical office, but not before giving Colleen, the office manager, a piece of his mind. This is the last of what we see or hear of the old rabble rouser and his complaints of poor medical service and attention. This is unfortunate.
The potential of Saville's writing lies in some of the questions he begins to touch on: Is our healthcare system anywhere near ready for the influx of new patients healthcare reform is sure to inspire? Are there new pedagogical practices that doctors could employ to rid themselves of the "god-complex"? How will these practices be in conflict with what doctors are taught and trained in school?
Given the fact that healthcare reform, rationing, and the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship have made it into 2009's cultural-political lexicon, a deeper exploration of these questions would surely have been welcomed by the audience.
Two of the more disappointing and under-developed circumstances are the rampant prejudices held by the practice's doctors (homophobia, sexism, racism, you name it) and the cold-blooded and violent actions committed by Dr. Kevin Cates against his wife, Gina Cates. Satire in theatre is tricky business. It's not enough to just recreate society's vices. The theatre artist must find new meaning and codes for it so that humor and irony is exposed on stage—not telegraphed.
As the writer-director much of this falls on Saville. A couple standouts of the production's cast include Anne Fidler's office manager and the helplessly overworked intern played by Tyler Foltz. The realistic approach to the set design (Eastwind Theatre Company) struck me as a missed opportunity to convey the absurdity of the play's reality and environment.