Bill W and Dr BobHave you had an opportunity to see the play “Bill W. and Dr. Bob”?

Written by Dr. Stephen Bergman (psychiatrist) and his wife, Janet Surrey (clinical psychologist),  I recently had the good fortune of watching the play at our local Center for the Arts.

I attended the play with my husband, who is also an alcoholic, and 15 other friends from the “Program”, both AA and Al-Anon. In fact, it sure seemed that the entire audience was in recovery as the conversation flowed easily between strangers, just as it does at meetings.

I went with reservations–how can people who are not in the Program going to be able to tell a story that is very well-known to the audience and in an entertaining way? My interest was at an all time high this night.

While we waited for the show to begin, we were able to see the stage set in the decor of the 1930’s and 1940’s. As the lights went down (and my husband cracked his usual joke “I’m going blind!”), you could feel the anticipation in the air. It opened with Bill W. introducing himself as if at an AA meeting.

Now, I’m not going to go over how the play was presented because you really need to experience it  firsthand. I got caught up as the story played out and began to feel as if I were actually listening to Bill and Bob talking to each other. More than once I wanted to jump into the conversation with them and say “Yes! I know what you mean!”.

When it was over, and my husband and I were driving home, we both expressed how touched we were by the play and that, once again, how grateful we are for the Program. Yes, tears made their appearance.

But the play brought up another idea we had both overlooked up until that night.  That is that the meeting of these two drunks was no accident. Millions of lives have been changed since that fateful day when Bill and Bob crossed paths. The Bible says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). I can think of no persons weaker in the eyes of this world than drunks and addicts. Together, one day at a time, we help each other when no one else can. Amazing.


12/11/11 UPDATE: Authors, director and cast take questions from the audience after a performance of the original Off Broadway production of Bill W. and Dr. Bob by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey.



Audio of Bill W. speaking on the day Dr. Bob died.  Give it time to download; I promise, it’s worth the wait: