Dr. Irving Baer is a daytime talk show host with a program that reaches out to a vast number of women viewers as he tells them how to take control of their health and lose weight. His world is pretty rosy until he gets word that a forthcoming magazine piece about him will not be favorable.
According to the article, Baer is anti-vaccine and because of that, a number of children have died during a measles outbreak. The story also questions the operations of his wife, Meredith, who runs a dieting business. Before it is all over this comedy by Eliza Clark, questions all manner of things: a doctor's omniscience, male-female relationships, and who exactly is responsible when something goes wrong with our health.
It's the regional premiere of Quack about to be performed at the Alley Theatre and directed by actor/director and two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey, who calls the play very timely. "It makes for great conversation," she says. "It's an emotional play that allows us to question who's right, who's wrong and which point of view do you ascribe to."
The five-person cast in the one-act play includes Michelle Elaine as River Thumbolt, Chris Hutchison as Dr. Irving Baer, Julia Krohn as Meredith Baer, Christina Liang as Kelly Henning and Jay Sullivan as Brock Silver. Baer is being held accountable which brings up the question of when something goes wrong with a child's health who should be held accountable: the doctor or the parents, Ivey says.
In the play Baer's assistant, a nurse, appears on the show with him and is ultimately asked to replace him on the program. Up pops an anti-feminist blogger who sails in to defend the doctor saying he shouldn't have his show taken away from him. Baer, the possessor of no-small ego, feels he's being treated unfairly. An endocrinologist, he's devoted himself to women's health. "He feels women have abandoned him," Ivey says. "Dr. Irving Bayer thinks he is a feminist."
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The great thing about this play, according to Ivey, is that it makes its points while being funny. "It has a great deal of comedy," she says, amid its serious moments.
Acknowledging "I've had a wonderful acting career," Ivey, who was born in El Paso and grew up in Odessa, says she really enjoys directing. "Taking the whole picture is more of a challenge for me. I like guiding a production and making it come to life, being a new play like this or whether it’s a classic."
She thinks this play has wide audience appeal. "It takes in issues that are affecting all of us. People are questioning old school rules and new school rules about how we deal with each other. Men who have lost jobs — it goes farther than self esteem to how do I pay my bills. It’s so much about us as humanity."
Quack begins previews February 8, opens February 13 and runs through March 10 at 7:30 p.m.Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. Recommended for audiences 13 and up. $45-$69.