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Photo: Melissa Yuan-Innes

Fringe Review: I Am The Most Unfeeling Doctor In The World (And Other True Tales From The Emergency Room)

By Barbara Popel on June 16, 2019

I Am The Most Unfeeling Doctor In The World (And Other True Tales From The Emergency Room)
by Melissa Yuan-Innes
56 min / PG / Solo / Storytelling / Comedy / Drama

If I ever go to the Emergency Room, I hope I get Dr. Melissa Yuan-Innes. Contrary to the title of her solo show, I think she’s a very compassionate doctor. Almost all of the time, that is, because she explains why she and every other doctor keep walking when a patient in a hospital room shouts, “Help!”

In I Am The Most Unfeeling Doctor In The World (And Other True Tales From The Emergency Room), she promises to pull back the slightly soiled cotton curtain on the medical profession. She does so by relating a number of vignettes from her life, ranging from being a first-year medical clerk helping at a birth all the way to coping with a major health crisis in her own family.

She got the audience on her side early on.

Initially, Yuan-Innes tells us she felt “as if the empathy was being carved out of her heart and no one noticed.” But gradually she learned that having compassion and being an MD weren’t mutually exclusive traits. She also learned how to cope with patients such as the one who hurled the epithet at her, “You’re the most unfeeling doctor I’ve ever encountered!”

Her stories alternate between joyful and heartbreaking.

There’s plenty of room for humour, too. In one story, after she stitches up the cut eyebrow of a very drunk man, he insists that he wants to hug her. She’s not keen on this—he’s covered with blood. “Patients who want to hug me are more likely to be little old ladies who want to knit me a sweater, rather than give me hepatitis C.”

Then there’s her main prop—a full-size medical skeleton, whom she uses to great effect in almost every vignette. I wish she’d introduced him/her/it as he/she/it almost seemed to have a personality!

She got the audience on her side early on. She was open about her uncertainties, even when she was the primary attending ER physician. And she certainly can laugh at herself. At one point, she broke into an exuberant dance to the theme from Ghostbusters, with the lyrics changed so the audience called out “Your doctor!” in response to her “Who ya gonna call?”


I Am The Most Unfeeling Doctor In The World (And Other True Tales From The Emergency Room) by Melissa Yuan-Innes is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Saturday June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.