This is Not a Medical Satire
22/02/2007 - 03/03/2007
By Estevez Gillespie
Directed by Steve Wakeem
“Is it so impossible for a psychotic to exercise his/her fears through doctorhood?”
This is the question that runs through “This is not a medical satire,” the brainchild of Wellington based actor/writer Estevez Gillespie.
This totally original and as yet unseen show takes a bite out of the medical industry and the characters who populate it. At the heart of Gillespie’s dark and electrifying script are the arrogance, egomania and vulnerability that hide behind the clinical mask of professional medicine. This theatrical piece brings out in four scenes, four doctors and four wildly neurotic medical conspiracies for examination. This is the show that will make you think twice about visiting your GP next time you get the sniffles.
Dr Onasis teaches endocrinology to bemused students while haunted by visions of perfect mammaries, while Dr Sam Wilkin wages war against Satan on prime time television. Dr Geelen is more concerned with her ongoing legal battle and the healing qualities of Beethoven’s 6th. And Dr Cade Henshaw, well… suffice to say that a severed arm in a vending machine and a tense job interview would make anyone fearful of an A.I controlled prosthetic.
The pus will fly, the cysts will throb, and the thought of trusting your health to a complete stranger in a white gown will never be so dangerous again.
Estevez Gillespie, trained by Barry Henderson and Delphine Morgantti and has also worked under such names as Grant Tilly, Ellie Smith and Adam Donald.
David McKenzie, a resident of Mt Victoria, has been involved with theatre for forty years. Most recently in Masterclass and The Underpants at Circa.
Tom Martin, a resident of Northland is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington’s Theatre and English Literature programmes. With recent roles in short films that includes the 24hr film competition
Jean Slobbe from Paparangi has performed most recently in a New Players production of Social Climbers, also acting in last years Fringe Festival in Just Add Water.
Bonnie Stanway has a Diploma in Teaching Speech and Drama. With performances in both drama and musicals most recently, as well as Co-Director of Little Shop of Horrors.
The Director Steve Wakeem studied Theatre and Law at Victoria University of Wellington.
1 hr 20 mins
Less than satisfying
Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Mar 2007
Another play which has a body lying on stage as its opening scene is writer/director Estevez Gillespie’s This is Not A Medical Satire, a show similar to Brain Power in that while it has some interesting ideas, as a piece of theatre it doesn’t work.
Essentially Gillespie is taking a cynical look at the medical fraternity, in particular the premise that even though eminent surgeons always wanted to be doctors what would happen if some unexplained event took over to interfere with their chosen profession? A German doctor trains as a musician to be a physician, an amputee becomes the head of a new amputee clinic …
Each scene is long on rhetoric and short on action and although funny in places and well performed by five very competent actors – Gillespie takes the main role in three of the four scenes – they more often than not become turgid and silly, making this a less than satisfying piece of entertainment.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Radical surgery required
Review by John Smythe 23rd Feb 2007
The title tells us: This Is Not A Medical Satire. Fair enough. So what is it?
Actor/playwright Estevez Gillespie has imagined four scenarios involving doctors whose professional practice is warped by formative childhood experiences. Thus:
§ Endocrinologist Dr John Onasis (played by Gillespie) has based his career on an encounter with his mother’s best friend’s mammaries as she helped him cut his 6th birthday cake
§ Hellfire preacher Dr Sam Wilkin (Gillespie), a child of the Southern States Bible Belt, sees the Devil’s pitchfork in the structure of the womb and therefore (as Plato did) advocates hysterectomies as an antidote to hysteria
§ Beethoven-loving Dr Madeleine Geelen (Jean Slobbé) is trying to be a musical biologist because her hard-of-hearing parents thought she said “physician” when she expressed her desire to be a musician, and had her educated accordingly
§ Dr Cade Henshaw (Gillespie), who lost one arm as a child while trying to save the life of his hypoglycaemic mother, in the throes of childbirth, continues his quest to specialise in amputations, or rather in limb, external organ and half-body transplants …
In a court room scenario Gillespie – clearly a versatile actor – also plays a lawyer opposite David McKenzie, who earlier plays a pyjama-clad husband and the amputation / transplant interviewer. Jean Slobbé also plays a cadaver and a tumour-afflicted patient. And Bonnie Stanway offers a nice comic line in naïve students and sexy nurses with the brains to be surgeons themselves.
The absurdist extremities of these plot scenarios give rise to wacky characterisations and some inventive staging (the director/producer is Steve Wakeem) … And? Their reasons for being elude me. As creative ideas, they are the same one in four different forms.
Despite being speakable and performable, the script is very over-written. Vast parts of the raw idea are still being worked out on paper, in long-hand, rather than distilled to a piquant essence ready for public consumption. Radical surgery is clearly required to allow it to function as a fit and healthy organism able to enjoy a productive life.
But that can only happen when the play’s purpose is clear. If satire is the objective, what is being satirised? If it’s an exercise in absurdism (itself a form of satire), which parts of the human condition or social structure are being taken to their absurdist extremes?
Of course if the major objective is simply to create acting opportunities for oneself and others, that’s not enough to earn the good will of audiences. Is it? That would just be showing off. Wouldn’t it?
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer