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Monday, August 24, 2009

Medicine Showdown’s snake oil goes down easy

click to enlarge POTION CONTROL: Dr. Eggerton (Jay Allan, left) and Legs Benedict (Khalid Hill)
  • POTION CONTROL: Dr. Eggerton (Jay Allan, left) and Legs Benedict (Khalid Hill)

No one can sell health care like Dr. Arthur Eggerton. In the Flying Carpet Theatre Co.’s The Medicine Showdown, Dr. Eggerton (Jay Allan) commands the kind of traveling medicine show that toured America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eggerton frequently launches into flamboyant spiels about the healing properties of his elixir, “a tonic of roots, barks and herbs” that’s good for whatever ails you.

Modern audiences can chuckle at Eggerton’s gobbledygook about how the elixir “re-ionizes the animolecules of your blood” and combats arrhythmia, the source of all disease. We can also recognize how Eggerton’s clientele might be swayed by the impressive-sounding jargon: It’s not that much of a leap to consider modern-day medical lingo and how little you may actually understand of your doctor’s diagnosis or the scientific explanations of pharmaceuticals on TV commercials. In the midst of a national debate over health care reform and worries about the H1N1 flu, The Medicine Showdown’s medical anxieties arrive like a perfectly timed prescription.

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(Photo by David Gochfeld)

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