The Medicine Showdown

About the Show

By Adam Koplan and Topher Payne
with additional songs by John Wright

Set in small-town Georgia during the 1918 global influenza pandemic, public health is placed at odds with the town’s economic interests as a concerned doctor urges the mayor to shut down all public gatherings – including the popular and lucrative local medicine show. Interwoven with the realistic play (inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s classic Enemy of the People) are scenes from a period medicine show, complete with tap dance, old time melodrama, country music, and vaudevillian comedy.

In October 2013, The Medicine Showdown enjoyed a fully produced run at the New York Theatre Workshop’s 4th Street Theatre. Accompanying the production was a series of panel discussions with public health professionals along with the cast and creative team. The productions were well-received, especially among New York City’s medical and public health community, a​nd was reviewed by the 2×2 Project, a project sponsored by Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Press and Reviews

“Pitch­-perfect re­-creations of vaudeville and medicine show…just what the doctor ordered.”
– Creative Loafing

“A local wonder…ferocious tap dancing and darn compelling sales pitches.”
– Smith & Kraus Dramatist’s Guild Report from the Regions

“A neat contemporary story because people are worried about H1N1…if you step back further, it speaks to the idea of insincere salesman and public figures trying to sway people’s opinions.”
– AM 1690