Play about Bethune opens to mixed reviews

November 21, 2010

Ron White and Fiona Byrne in Ken Gass's Bethune Imagined, at Factory Theater. Photo Ed Gass-Donnelly

Bethune Imagined, a play based on the life of Norman Bethune, the Canadian physician whose innovations in blood transfusion techniques during the Spanish Civil War were documented in the film Heart of Spain (Herbert Kline, 1937), has opened to mixed reviews:

When the world remembers Canadian icon Norman Bethune, it remembers a pioneering doctor who became so famous in China that they put him on postage stamps. In the 1930s, during the second Sino-Japanese War, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and performed emergency surgeries on the battlefields. He was appointed medical advisor to a top general before he died in 1939 at age 49, from an infection resulting from a cut finger. But those who have dug deeper into Bethune’s life story become fascinated by his womanizing, and the tormented soul that pursued self-destruction with the same enthusiasm that he devoted to changing the world.

Reviews in the Globe and Mail, QMI, and The Star.