Arts profile

THERE’S a universal theme that prominent addiction psychiatrist, bestselling author and playwright Samuel Shem says permeates all his work – “the danger of isolation and the healing power of mutual connection”.

That’s why the head of addiction at Harvard Medical School, real name Dr Stephen Bergman, expects diverse audiences to warm to the premiere Australian production of his play Bill W. and Dr. Bob.  

This is despite the fact it deals with what might sound like a niche subject – the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous.

US-based Shem is best known for the widely influential 1978 novel The House of God.

However, Bill W., which made its US debut in 2007, arguably tells the most important story of addiction treatment: the true tale of a doctor and an alcoholic who found the trick to quitting is sharing.

“It’s about going through suffering and whether you isolate yourself and tough it