American playwright Neil Simon “colludes with” Russian writer Anton Chekhov to create “The Good Doctor,” now playing at the Cottage Theatre

(Above: Kathryn Pearson, Sophie Blades, Tracy Nygard, Kory Weimer, Randall Brous, Tony Rust and Glenn Rust make up the cast of “The Good Doctor” at the Cottage Theatre; photos by Emily Bly)

By Randi Bjornstad

There’s been a lot of unpleasant political talk about collusion between Americans and Russians lately, but in the arts, a bit of collusion sometimes can be a happy thing.

That would be the intent with Neil Simon’s comedy, “The Good Doctor,” now playing at the Cottage Theatre in Cottage Grove.

Simon, who just turned 90, is an American writer of dozens of stage plays, movie screenplays and television comedies. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his play, “Lost in Yonkers” and the total number of his Oscar and Tony award nominations exceeds that of any other writer to date.

Kory Weimer and Glenn Rust portray one of the subplots in “The Good Doctor,” about a patient who encounters an overzealous dental student

The Russian connection in his play, “The Good Doctor,” comes about because Simon based the play on several short stories by the equally iconic Russian author, Anton Chekhov, with the individual storylines held together by a narrator, usually assumed to be Chekhov himself.

The play opened on Broadway in November 1973 and ran for 208 performances before closing in May 1974. It was nominated for five Tony awards in acting and writing categories, with Frances Sternhagen winning for best actress. It was made into a TV play for public television in 1978 and revived in New York by The Melting Pot Theater in 1998.

The name, “The Good Doctor,” apparently refers to the fact that Chekhov was a doctor in real life, because none of the plots of the short stories is about a doctor. One involves a greedy woman who tries to cheat her children’s governess out of her pay. Another is about an overzealous dental student treating a patient. Still another recalls an incident

Tracy Nygard, Glenn Rust, Tony Rust and Sophie Blades, left to right, appear in a comedic subplot called “The Sneeze”

in which a lowly government worker works himself into a nervous breakdown after accidentally sneezing on a general during a night at the opera. Some of the other characters include a seducer who gets his comeuppance, an actress at an audition and a tramp who makes money through a scam in which he offers to drown himself for pay.

In order to make all this happen, the seven-member cast must take on multiple roles, that task falling to Kathryn Pearson, Sophie Blades, Tracy Nygard, Kory Weimer, Randall Brous, Tony Rust and Glenn Rust.

Besides acting, Weimer designed and directs the Cottage Theatre production, with costumes by Chris Carter and lighting by Amanda Ferguson.

The Good Doctor

When: 8 p.m. on Aug. 11-12, 17-19 and 24-26; and 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 20 and 27

Where: Cottage Theatre, 700 Village Drive, Cottage Grove

Admission: $25 adults, $15 youths ages 6-18 years; available at the box office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 541-942-8001, or online at cottagetheatre.org/

 

 

Randi Bjornstad

Has more than 30 years' journalism experience after a previous stint as a land-use planner. Got first rejection slip at age 11, but the editor wrote an encouraging note. Lives in Eugene, Ore., with husband-and-photographer Paul Carter, adorable dog Tallulah and quirky cats Pearl, Audrey, Garbo, Harry and Ozma.

randi has 135 posts and counting.See all posts by randi

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