At the weekend I went to see Duet for one in the Vaudeville theatre. It’s a revival of a play originally performed during the 1970s. Juliet Stephenson plays a concert violinist (Stephanie Abrahams) who has multiple sclerosis. She can therefore no longer play and has been referred to a psychiatrist by her husband who is concerned about her. The drama takes place over six consultations that Stephanie has with Dr Albert Feldmman (Henry Goodman). Having started out in Islington’s Almeida, to excellent reviews, it has now transferred to the Vaudeville theatre on the Strand.
Plaudits aside, my experience was utterly wrecked by my constant involuntary critique of the verisimilitude of the psychiatrist character, who I felt represented a caricature. In a play life must, of necessity, be truncated but Dr Feldmann had barely said hello to Stephanie before prescribing her antidepressants, which he almost immediately changed. Then, having said he wasn’t a psychoanalyst – despite there being a facsimile of Freud’s couch centre stage – he wasted no time in probing her relationship with her father, pausing only to make impertinent comments and stare at his shoes. As she left he refused to shake her hand. Do people think that psychiatrists are unfriendly?
I suspect if I was in another profession then I would be unable to watch and dramatization about that either (a police doctor must encounter few suitable programs on TV…), such is the liberties that must be taken to ensure entertainment. Unless you happen to think that my jokes are funny, then my consultations wouldn’t make very good watching.