Becoming Doctor Ruth
By Mark St. Germain
Directed by Cynthia White
Starring Eileen Desandre
Everybody likes sex, but most people are too ashamed to talk about it, particularly on the radio. Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Desandre) prepares to move out of her killer NYC apartment with a view of the Palisades to a smaller place. As she packs she retells a life full of ups and downs. Born to comfortably middle class German Jews, her parents were whisked away to the death camps while she was lucky enough to end up in a Swiss refugee school. After the war, she went to the nascent Israel and worked on a Kibbutz. There she married a young man and ended up in New York, diverse but liberated. Here she got a degree and became a sex therapist and turned that into a radio show and national prominence. Her greatest accomplishment was turning the taboos of sex into pop culture and gave good solid advice to millions.
The drama here is a low keyed. The holocaust story is familiar yet distant memory, and since she is a live and present here, you know how it turns out. Here apartment id filled with anonymous books, all coated an intermediate beige and implying they are all somehow similar and meaningless. Perhaps that are, but we all surround ourselves with similar remembrances of the past. As she tell her story, the phone rings from time to time giving the tale a break in and introducing the current lively aspects of her life. Desandre does an excellent job with this long and winding story, pivoting on the breaks occasioned by those call. We see it’s not that she has a new insight in to sex and relation, but she had the courage to break the taboo of “Never talk about it in public; it’s all so dirty.” Dr Ruth was a boon to radio, to society and to this wonderful show.