Dale Alpert is one of Ventura County’s most versatile character actors. From playing the angriest juror in “Twelve Angry Men” to a comic hood in “Kiss Me, Kate,” you can always count on Alpert to deliver a professional, memorable performance. This week he is one of the cast performing in George Bernard Shaw’s satire on the medical profession, “The Doctor’s Dilemma,” which is playing at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. I caught up with Dale at a dress rehearsal for the show and we talked about his character.
VCOS: It seems that you have one of the more interesting characters in the show.
Dale: His name is Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington, or as he is better known to his friends: “B. B.” He is a knight. He is the physician to the royal family. He is an exceptionally likable and articulate..fool. You’d know this if you stopped to think about what he says – but people don’t really listen to what he says because he is so effusive that he just sort of sweeps them away.
VCOS: So, he’s somewhat of a blowhard.
Dale: Exactly. Once he gets going, he NEVER stops talking. He contradicts himself in various ways and has a narrow way of presenting himself. He says this is the way something is and isn’t really prepared to take a lot of input about any other view. He has a certain way of practicing medicine, which is medicine-by-personality. He wills people to feel better. And since he has an elite clientele, a lot of times they do heal just as a result of his self-confidence.
VCOS: Not unlike a lot of doctors today.
Dale: Right. He’s class-conscious without being too snobbish about it, but extremely self-absorbed. If nobody else listened to him, he’d be quite content just listening to himself talk.
VCOS: Is he like anybody that you’ve encountered in real life or in other characters?
Dale: Well, it’s interesting. The last part I played was Henry Drummond in “Inherit the Wind.” They’re polar opposites. Drummond WAS the smartest guy in the room. B. B. only THINKS he’s the smartest guy in the room. None of his contemporaries think he is. But he’s among the most eminent physicians in London. He has long, rambling monologues. He doesn’t expect people to disagree with him; he’s basically telling them. It’s not really a conversation. I think Shaw’s point was that fame doesn’t necessarily make one competent. But he’s a really, really likable blowhard. There was a movie version of “Doctor’s Dilemma” in the ’50s. The young artist, Dubedat, is played by Dirk Bogarde while Leslie Caron, pre-“Gigi,” played Mrs. Dubedat. So I checked to see who was playing B. B. and it was Robert Morley.
VCOS: I can see how that could work! Do you use an accent?
Dale: I do. I have fun with that. In fact, “Inherit the Wind” was one of the few parts I’ve done recently where I HAVEN’T used an accent! In “Lucky Stiff,” I had to do about three or four different accents. But B. B. is “veddy” British so I thought I might as well make him sound British!
See the VC On Stage Calendar of Events for dates and times for “The Doctor’s Dilemma.”