DOUBLE BLIND (review by Bill Fowkes)

DOUBLE BLIND is a 60-minute drama with a compelling story. The play does a good job of depicting the world of the medical profession–it reeks of authenticity. (Given that Berman is a member of that profession, that’s not surprising–but still, it’s to her credit that she makes that world real for those of us not in that profession.) The acting is generally quite good. I found the ER doctor (Dr. Georgianna Saunders), played by Valerie Stack Dodge, particularly good. Rachel Matusewicz, playing the main character, Dr. Diane Taub, also excelled in her role.

Some things in the story strain credulity. The ER doctor is unusually nasty and cruel at the beginning and then becomes quite wonderful and supportive later on. It’s hard to think that some of her good qualities wouldn’t show through in the earlier scenes. As currently written, it’s as if a light switch goes off and she becomes a completely different person. Dr. Robert Render is even more problematic. He is so relentlessly cruel, that he is a one-dimensional character. Too easy a villain. Also, the way he wears his Christianity on his sleeve is unsubtle and odd. It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have been told by somebody along the way to moderate his behavior. Dr. Taub’s Jewishness is introduced as a complication and a problem in her relationship with Dr. Render, but this thread is dropped quickly rather than fully explored  . It might be interesting, for example, to find out where Dr. Render’s antisemitism comes from and how else it has manifested itself. 

The inter-racial relationship between Dr. Taub and her significant other (Bert Johnson) is a good element in the play. It’s a nice change to see this relationship treated as simply any other relationship would be and not made into a problem. This is not to say that a problematic relationship would be wrong–it would just make this a different play, and in that case would require much more stage time. I did, however, appreciate the moment when Diane calls Bert “bourgeois” and he pushes back that for his family, reaching the middle class was a significant achievement and not something to be mocked.

Regarding the physical production, the music between scenes was very good. The production as a whole was minimal, which is understandable given the venue and budgetary limitations for this kind of production. There was, however, one comical glitch. When the patient, Emily, died and the lights dimmed only partway, we then saw her rise up off the gurney like Lazarus, and the audience laughed. (It might be better to roll the gurney off so the audience doesn’t see that.)
In short, this is a good story with some fine acting.


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