Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Individuals can alter their destiny


Looking back at the remarkable success of this play, coauthored with my wife, Janet Surrey— an excerpt of a review in The Huffington Post:

As recounted in Bill W. and Dr. Bob…Wilson, a stockbroker, connects with Dr. Bob Smith (Timothy Crowe), who has been in and out of sanitariums and performs surgery drunk. His wife, Anne (Deborah Hedwall), much like Bill’s wife, Lois (Denise Cormier), despair of their husbands. But as their story unfolds, the message becomes clear: Addicts can help each other recover.

While the play is a chronology of their fated friendship, it’s also a look at two flawed men and the organization they created to help others. Stumbling for the right words, the right message, the two try the Oxford Group, but reject the overtly religious tone. Railing against their demons, they eventually devise a revolutionary way for alcoholics to regain control of their lives. A plus is the medical assurance Bill W. receives that his alcoholism is a disease, rather than a moral failing.

Their catchphrases — “one day at a time,” “feelings aren’t facts” — have entered the modern lexicon. Twelve Step programs are now ubiquitous. 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.


For more information on this play, click here.  Follow Samuel Shem on Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter


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