nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman
February 27, 2005
Tired of spending 45 minutes in your dermatologist's waiting room only to see him for about 45 seconds once your name is called? (True story!) Discouraged by reduced service and cost-cutting on your healthcare plan? Worried about whether your doctor will return your email and how much you will have to pay for it?
Damaged Care, a musical comedy/cabaret show written and performed by two medical doctors, Dr. Greg LaGana and Dr. Barry Levy, explores some of the specific complaints doctors and patients may have regarding healthcare in America today. The doctors do this exploration through song. And, what better way is there to discuss, for example, organ transplants than singing "The Spare Parts Blues"? Most of the songs in the show are parodies of popular show tunes. Thus, "I Feel Pretty" becomes "Doctors in Cyberspace" and "That's Entertainment" becomes "That's Cost Containment." The musical director and piano accompanist, Brad Ross, wrote four of the 15 songs for the show.
In order to hold their discussion from two points of view, the doctors have created two very different characters. Dr. LaGana plays the part of the "idealist" who is frustrated by not having enough time to care for his patients and by the business side of things. Dr. Levy, playing the "devil's advocate," scolds Dr. LaGana for "being so negative" and urges LaGana to look at things from a more “profitable” viewpoint. The doctors also come together sometimes by lamenting about "the good old days" of practicing medicine.
LaGana and Levy, clearly close friends, have a nice chemistry on stage and their voices aren't so bad either. They bring up a lot of problems rather than explore a few in depth and so the show seems to aim to spark conversation and allow for venting rather than offer any definite solutions.
In one satirical bit, the doctors put on devil's horns and carry pitchforks as they plot how to get around the Patient's Bill of Rights by creating a healthcare plan that doesn't cover much of anything at all (one lyric to the song they sing is "We do not cover oral health or anything that's dental..." ). In another, the men fight about whom to admit into a hospital. Levy 's character advises LaGana to try a more lucrative policy as he sings to imaginary patients, "You're sick; go home."
Overall, the show is funny and corny (that's a good thing) and enjoyable to watch and listen to. At the performance I attended, I was able to stick around for the short, informal Q&A held afterward for a more serious discussion of the issues.