The stage is set; the only thing that matters is The Writer sitting quietly at his desk. As the house lights dim he looks out into the audience breaking the fourth wall, but don’t be deceived by the silence — Winter Park High School’s production of Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor” was definitely one to remember.
“The Good Doctor,” written by Neil Simon, opened on Broadway in 1973 and ran for 208 performances. This eclectic collection of scenes is written in the style of Chekhovian comedy, whose only connecting thread is the character of The Writer – whom Simon hints is actually Anton Chekov. Carrying both light and dark moments “The Good Doctor” ranges in plot from a simple sneeze, to the meaning of becoming a man, to the hope of finding love again.
The production opened and closed on Reece White as The Writer. Being the only consistent character in the play, his presence was often noted even when the scene was not really his. White’s portrayal of The Writer was sophisticated and observant as he watched his stories unfold before his eyes, blending into the background and yet still having a commanding presence onstage. White seemed completely engrossed in the scene occurring at all times and his reactions to the other actors added another layer of depth to the story.
In “The Governess,” Katherine Gould and Anissa Hernandez played The Mistress and Julia. Gould’s passive aggressive attitude as The Mistress worked perfectly with the character as she slowly took away from Julia’s hard earned wages. As Julia, Hernandez was the picture of the shy and meek as she quietly accepted her fate. Although at times Julia’s lines were lost in the softness of her voice, the scene was carried well by both women and ended on a heartwarming note. Hannah Yucht in “The Audition” played the part of The Girl exquisitely, as she portrayed the country girl coming to make it in the big city. Her uneasy determination and quiet persistence made her likeable and relatable, and left hope that she would get the part.
John Good in “The Seduction” played the hysterical con-man Peter Semyonich. His portrayal of the classic playboy was impossible to ignore as he strutted around the stage carrying Peter’s huge ego on his shoulders. His timing was impeccable as he broke the fourth wall to voice his inner thoughts to the audience and he came full-circle in the end when he decided to let Carissa Gibson’s The Wife continue her marriage.
The absence of microphones was a pleasant change and, except for a few jumbled lines, the actors projected excellently. There were some slight problems in the timing of the lights, but every character could be seen clearly onstage. The music was also a nice touch for helping along the scene changes.
Putting together this assortment of scenes could not have been easy, and Winter Park High pulled it off with ease and grace that made their production of “The Good Doctor” something to remember.