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Reviews & Press


Curtain call, left to right, Liz Wisan, Denise Cormier, Patrick Boll, Timothy Crowe, Deborah Hedwall, Daniel Pearce

Curtain call, left to right, Liz Wisan, Denise Cormier, Patrick Boll, Timothy Crowe, Deborah Hedwall, Daniel Pearce

Winner, 2007 Performing Arts Award National Council on Alcohol and Drug dependence
Winner, 2010 Best Play Award, Regional British Columbia Drama Festival
Winner, 2010 Best Play Award, Regional British Columbia Drama Festival
Winner, 2010 Top Theatre Stories in Cleveland, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Winner, 1995 One of the best plays of the year  San Diego Union Tribune
Winner, 1995 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award to Dr. Samuel Shem

The 2013-2014 Soho Playhouse Production Reviews



February 13, 2014


July 17, 2013


 “Sharp performances, Seth Gordon’s solid direction and a purpose-driven script (that never forgets the humor of the human experience) make this a satisfying revival.”


“What’s so moving about the production, pierced with dark humor and terrible suffering, is the understanding that individuals can alter their destiny.  That makes Bill W. and Dr. Bob both inspiring and remarkable.  The performances are raw and all too real.  Seth Gordon has directed a gripping human story, aided by excellent actors—Lois Wilson and Anne Smith are shown as instrumental in founding Al-Anon.  Playwrights Sam Shem and Janet Surrey reveal all the ugly realities of alcoholism and it devastation on families, but the play’s thrust is to spread a message of hope, in a strong theatrical vehicle—a reminder that there is power in community.”


Bill W. and Dr. Bob is a truly fascinating American story that should be seen by a wide audience.  Shem and Surrey have developed a startlingly emotional and dramatic script.”


“Two hours of affecting theatre. This new production, directed with theatrical acuity and cinematic fluidity by Seth Gordon, has been lovingly mounted and is exceptionally well cast…Vividly credible portraits of the two men, and affecting portraits of their wives Lois and Anne, and a variety of other folks.  Other dramas have depicted the consequences of addiction in more harrowing terms, from The Lost Weekend to Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Come Back Little Sheba.  But Bill W. and Dr. Bob succeeds in dramatizing the disease in very human terms. Furthermore, in showing us the friendship between these two unusual men and their mutual obsession to help themselves by listening to and helping others, it celebrates humanity’s better impulses, perhaps its best impulse.


“Bill W. and Dr. Bob is getting standing ovations!” - Reuters

Paints an endearing portrait of friendship and human weakness with warm humor.” -New Yorker

“Deeply human, audience-embracing, intelligent writing, a leavening of humor and an innate power of biographical storytelling. A remarkable story!“—Variety

“Funny and fast moving…Mesmerizing drama. This is what good theatre should be. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or a member of AA to enjoy this.“—

“Wonderful, uplifting new play…a joyous drama of the triumph and survival of the human spirit…filled with humor and grace“—Examiner

“Bill W. and Dr. Bob is an insightful, uplifting experience—whether you’ve been a diehard drunk, a social drinker, or never even touch the stuff”—Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minnesota

“The miraculous story, beautifully told, of the men who named the disease and created the cure.”—Martin Sheen

“Holds the audience in the palm of its hand from the very start. The stakes are life-or-death throughout. Captures the wild exciting uncertainty of invention. an uplifting reminder of the power of the human spirit. The sleeper hit of the season.”—

“Humanizes the world of addiction so honestly that it transcends that universe. To put it bluntly, you don’t have to be in AA to appreciate this show.“—News-Press, Ft. Myers Florida

“A textured, truthful telling of AA’s story…Inspiring!” —Boston Globe

“Something rare and exciting is happening at the Off Broadway New World Theatre. Producers often aspire to find ‘new audiences’—and its happening here. Profoundly moving and highly dramatic. It is theatre for a new audience”—WBAI, Pacifica Radio New York

“Superb drama. The fall theatre season’s first must-see piece. Spellbinding and truly gripping entertainment…Touches an emotional chord about faith and belief that’s hidden deep inside everyone who’s ever sought redemption of any kind.”—Coastal Beat News, Ft Myers, Florida

“A wonderful and uplifting new play. A joyous drama of the triumph and survival of the human spirit. The authors’ sensitive writing helps us care about these men who are incapable of caring for themselves. It is filled with humor and grace.”—Phoenix Examiner, Arizona

“A textured, truthful telling of AA’s story. Evocative portraits of two complex men, without portraying either as an untarnished hero. Inspiring!”—The Boston Globe

“A funny, poignant, compelling new play. A universal message—The Boston Herald

“The play humanizes the world of addiction so honestly that the production transcends that universe. To put it bluntly, you don’t have to be in AA to appreciate this show” – Ft. Myers Florida

“Sobering but not somber…The light of truth shining though the testimony of one drunk’s experience to another sparkles like fine champagne”—Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio

“If you are a friend of Bill W. and Dr. Bob and are familiar with their stories, you will be bolstered and inspired. If you don’t know who Bill W. and Dr. Bob are, then it’s time you met them. You’ll be glad you did…An innovative theatrical shape that is faithful to the narrative history”—The Independent, Cleveland

“A night to remember and treasure”—

“Entertaining, enlightening, riveting”Ohio News Bureau

“An intoxicating play…Hilarious moments in a story that is solidly grounded in spirituality. Delivers the story with a memorable theatrical punch—Cleveland Scene.

“Breaking attendance records for a season-closing play in the 94-year history of The Cleveland Play House, Bill W and Dr. Bob is an inspirational, gripping, and often funny story“—

“A profoundly moving drama. Go see this amazing bit of theatre…It shattered my normally unrockable composure (I would typically say, ‘It is just a play, after all.’)”—, Ohio

“Bill W. and Dr. Bob was the Cleveland Playhouse’s biggest season finale in 20 years. It put the Playhouse over the top”—Cleveland Scene

“Bill W. and Dr. Bob is a surprisingly intoxicating retelling of the founding, in Akron in 1935, of Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the Top Theatre Stories and Great Shows in Cleveland 2010″–Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An often funny, moving play…For all the seriousness of its theme, it is a comedy“—, Florida

“Whether you’ve been a spouse, sibling, parent, child, family, coworker, or friend of an alcoholic, Bill W. and Dr. Bob is one meeting you should not miss”—The Column, Dallas

“At the end of this inspirational and entertaining performance, one leaves the theatre thirsting for more. Our hope is that everyone whose life has been touched by addiction has an opportunity to experience the play”—Nick Motu, Hazelden Publisher and Vice President, Minnesota

You will want to return over and over again, dragging along everyone you love whose life has been burdened by the deadly disease of addiction”—Susan Gray, Director of Broadcast Development, Northern Light Productions, Boston, on the San Antonio, Texas, production

This is more than just a play: it’s the story of two men who changed the lives of millions of people throughout the world…a powerful drama that de-mystifies the founders of AA and shows them as real, flawed people who nonetheless created something larger than themselves”—Charles Runnells, News-Press, Ft. Myers, Florida

An often funny, moving, and character-driven play. Admirably focused. It is not grim. In fact, for all the seriousness of the theme it is a comedy. It is the happiest of endings”—Bob O’Neill, Collier Citizen, Del Ray Beach Florida

“Dramatic, poignant, and compelling”—Beverly Hills Outlook, California

“Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey hit the nail on the head with their well-crafted, beautifully written script. The dialogue will resonate with any viewer”—, California

“The theatre taps into a different audience with Bill W. and Dr. Bob, including recovery groups and those who don’t typically attend theatre…While there’s talk of God and prayer, there’s also a healthy dose of skepticism and cynicism, and, believe it or not, plenty of laughter“—Nancy Stetson, Florida Weekly

Smart, funny play about AA avoids proselytizing“—Oregon

FROM AUSTRALIA, a sold-out Carriageworks Theatre, Sidney, production:

“Intelligent and inspiring”— Australian Doctor

From Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales: “Such a fine performance—a sensitive concept and a significant work. A memorable evening.”

“Insights into AA’s founders”—The Australian

A profound and deeply moving experience“— Peter Kingston, director, WAAPA

“A few old-fashioned steps to a persuasive program, unfolding clearly and briskly. Consistent, convincing…radiates warmth and cynical humor“—The Sydney Herald

Bill W. and Dr. Bob © 2015. All Rights Reserved.