Mark Rylance is Dr Semmelweis

YOU may never have heard of Dr Semmelweis, but if you are a woman who has had a baby in hospital you owe him a greater debt than you can imagine. His story is now being told in an eagerly anticipated world premiere drama at Bristol Old Vic, running to 12th February.

What does it take to change the world? Confronted by the terrible death toll of childbed fever in 19th century Vienna, Semmelweis makes a discovery that could save hundreds of thousands of new mothers. And it is something that seems so simple that it makes your head spin. But when the medical establishment questions his methods, rejects his theory and doubts his sanity, the controversial surgeon finds that being a pioneer is not enough.

Years later, he is haunted by the ghosts of the women he failed to save. Is it too late to convince the medical establishment to see the truth? And if he tries what will be the cost?

This powerful world premiere is based on an original idea from Mark Rylance (Jerusalem, Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies), developed with writer Stephen Brown (Occupational Hazards) and Bristol Old Vic artistic director Tom Morris (War Horse, Touching the Void).

Mark Rylance, who plays the title role, is internationally known for his long association with Shakespeare’s Globe, and his many award-winning performances in the West End, on Broadway and on screen.

The performance includes on-stage musicians and dancers and is already identified as one of the productions of 2022.