THE NEW YORKER
DR. KNOCK; OR THE TRIUMPH OF MEDICINE
May 24, 2010
This very amusing 1923 satire by Jules Romains, a tremendous hit in its day, hasn’t been seen in New York for seventy-two years. As Dr. Knock prepares to take over a sleepy practice in the provincial French town of Saint-Maurice, it’s clear that he plans to make a killing. The play is not a medical horror thriller, though the suddenly menacing music and lighting cues might have you feeling otherwise. Dr. Knock’s killing will be financial, as, with a strategy of ingratiation, persuasion, intimidation, and mumbo-jumbo, he swiftly transforms the health-care outlook of his patients, turning the townsfolk into a willing, profitable mass of imaginary invalids. Thomas M. Hammond is superb in the lead role, calculating and charismatic. The rest of the cast, most playing multiple parts, provide astute comic support, and Gus Kaikkonen directs with aplomb.