Posted in AA, addiction, alcoholism, Bill W aka Bill Wilson, bio-drama, Dr. Bob, founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Hi my name is Bill W, sobriety

"The ring of truth:" It’s there in "Bill W and Dr. Bob"

Anyone who has struggled with addictions, either personally or intimately with another, knows that sobriety of any kind is hard won.

“Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” at The Soho Playhouse through January 5, 2014, tells the story of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and their wives in an entertaining drama.“Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” while being very sober in the sense of sincereis far from solemn. It is more than polemic, although if the play inspires you to start or join a meeting of your own, “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” offers a resource guide.

Timothy Crowe as Dr. Bob and Patrick Boll as Bill W. in “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” by Janet Surry and Sam Shem, at The Soho Playhouse through January 5, 2014. Photo  by Joseph E. Reid.

Anonymity seems to have been far from Bill W.’s (Patrick Boll) style and personality. He was a go-go stock picker who revolutionized his industry by going into the field to check out the way companies were run. He took his attractive young wife, Lois (Denise Cormier) on his travels by motorbike, and just when they were broke and running out of gas, he hit it big. We soon learn, however, that Lois is troubled by his blackout drinking even before 1929 comes along and Bill Wilson’s good fortune in the market turns with the Crash.

Bill W. (Patrick Boll) convinces Dr. Bob (Timothy Crowe) that the cure for alcoholism is in having drunks share their stories with others in the same plight from “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” at The Soho Playhouse. Photo by Joseph E. Reid.

Dr. Bob (Timothy Crowe) uses alcohol to relieve his shyness. Despite his natural humility and sense of responsibility, hangovers are part of his daily routine in the operating room. He cannot help but hit the hidden bottle as soon as his wife, Anne (Deborah Hedwell) leaves for a bible meeting.  Neither Bill W. nor Dr. Bob are religious men, and their attempts at a cure through temperance groups like The Oxford Scoiety fail until….

The newly-sober Bill is sent to Akron to look into a tire manufacturing concern, and possibly become its President. There he is distressed by desires to drink. In his search for someone to help stop him, he looks to meet other drunks.  He is introduced to Bob Smith, and the rest of the AA history unfolds in the drama that is “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.”

Co-playwrightsSam Shem and Janet Surrey, married physician and psychologist,  tell the story of Alcoholics Anonymous in a deeply theatrical way, aided by the excellent direction of Seth Gordon. The ensemble, which also includes Daniel Pearce and Liz Wisan in a variety of roles as bartenders, drinkers, reformers, is superb. In this outstanding company, Timothy Crowe is especially fine as Bill W.’s partner and friend.

For more information about the show and special events related to “Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” visit