|A principled, duty-bound man takes a step out of his lane and loses his moral compass in the engrossing world premiere of the psychological thriller “Dr. Glas,” a filmed-for-streaming production by North Coast Rep. |
When we first meet 19th century Swedish physician Dr. Glas (a solo performance by Daniel Gerroll), he is hot and bothered by a combination of a broiling summer day in Stockholm, constricting Victorian gentleman garb and the visit of an alluring woman seeking an unusual medical intervention. Finding herself in an intolerable marriage to a brutish older man with an insatiable carnal appetite, the woman begs the doctor to convince her husband (also a patient) that she has a life-threatening condition that requires the couple abstain from sex.
The good doctor rationalizes that acceding to the woman’s request is a compassionate thing to do. Besides, what harm could a little fib do? Plenty it turns out, as the husband’s urges turn to marital-bed rape.
Dr. Glas doubles down on deceit by informing the man he is gravely ill and must immediately go away for six weeks for a therapeutic spa cure. This gives the wife breathing room and the doctor time to fantasize about a romance as the woman’s savior. But then lands a fly in the ointment when madame takes a cad as a lover in her husband’s absence and is now with child.
Dr. Glas blunders on trying to mop up the unintended consequences of each of his misguided actions. Finally, his ruminations turn to thoughts of murder to “save” his patient from her husband.
Award-winning British television and screen actor Daniel Gerroll (“The Blacklist” and “Chariots of Fire”) gives a captivating performance that delivers on all counts in his portrayal of an unfulfilled and alienated man whose initial joy in finding passion becomes obsession and ultimately menace.
Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has crafted a taut 60-minute play as intricate and riveting as classic film noir. The story’s source material is a 1905 novel, astonishing at the time in conservative Sweden for its frank discussion of extramarital sex, abortion, and a women’s rights when it comes to her husband’s sexual demands.
As the play unfolds, Dr. Glas brings viewers into his confidence from a stage of minimalist set design (by Marty Burnett) that is surprisingly animated by the interplay of textured scrims and lighting. Dependent on whether lit from in front or behind, the sheets look like solid era-appropriate hammered tinwork or as transparent as perforated onion skin. Other subtle lighting effects of color and motion simulate theater curtains, steam rising in a public bathhouse and the suggestion of a stained-glass church window as the doctor plays God with people’s lives.
Will Dr. Glas become a killer and make a play for the widow? Might he come to his senses and drop his chilling scheme? Is there any possibility of him reconciling morality with his overwhelming impulses?
The doctor will see you now.
by Lynne Friedmann