Part of the American High School Theatre Festival, The Medicine Showdown is performed by a promising and lively bunch from the US, showcasing their talents and best Old South accents in this story about going against the masses.
The production is set in Georgia in 1918 and tells the tale of one doctor's battle to keep the hugely popular Dr Edgerton's Medicine Show from coming to town and putting its people at risk of the flu pandemic, which in all reality killed tens of millions of people across the globe. The battle of one against an ignorant majority is loosely based upon Henrik Ibsen's Enemy of the People, with an Old South twist; not only is the agitator Dr Hill a woman in a conservative Victorian community, but her bid to ban all public gatherings includes Sunday church services, which brings all manner of hysteria and blasphemy accusations crashing down on her.
The week-long battle leading up to the show is interjected by Dr Edgerton's show itself, which is all bells and whistles and very little medicine. This makes for excellent diversion and keeps up the pace of the action. Bursts of song, dance and shameless product placement on behalf of Edgerton allow the cast to really show off their talents, where the parallel storyline only grants that opportunity to a few key characters - though these few carry along the driving force of the plot brilliantly. It is however up to the supporting cast, largely made up of Edgerton's extensive entourage, to provide comic relief from the looming threat of Spanish flu. This includes everything from Siamese spiritual dancing, tap and washboard music, as well as a hilarious mind-reading diagnosis of the audience.
Though there was the occasional blunder with lines and some of the more serious scenes were performed a little stiffly, The Medicine Showdown is undeniably wholesome good fun.