Runtime: 2h 50m
Mark Rylance makes his return to the West End stage, playing the Hungarian doctor who, working in Austria in the mid-19th century, observed that there was a much lower rate of infection and death in new mothers if staff washed their hands thoroughly with a chlorinated lime solution after attending each patient. But he faced huge opposition from the medical establishment, suffered a breakdown, and was committed to an asylum. Tom Morris’ production received considerable acclaim when it premiered at Bristol Old Vic in 2022, and Rylance is such a mighty, galvanising actor that the chance to see him live on stage should not be missed.
Mark Rylance makes a triumphant return to the West End as maverick Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis, one of medicine's greatest pioneers whose work could have saved the lives of many millions of mothers. But what good is a discovery that is ignored? In Vienna, a city of artistic and scientific revolution, thousands of women are still dying in childbirth each and every year. Only Dr Semmelweis can see the invisible killer at work, but to stop it, he must convince his colleagues to admit culpability and approve change. Damned by an establishment that questions his methods, his motives and even his sanity, Semmelweis is haunted by the women he has failed to save. Can he finally convince the greatest doctors of 19th Century Europe to accept his argument – and what will it cost him to make an almost impossible case? Following a “smash hit” (Mail on Sunday), sold-out run at Bristol Old Vic, this “compelling new drama” (Telegraph) directed by Tom Morris, featuring live music by Adrian Sutton and original choreography by Antonia Franceschi of Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, comes to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End for a strictly limited run this summer. Please note: The production is not able to guarantee the appearance of any specific actor due to illness or unforeseen circumstances. Age Recommendation: 14+ Content: Contains references to suicide, and infant and maternal mortality. Viewer discretion is advised.