Firestein, Stuart

“Smell!” shouts the strange, diminutive man emphatically from the edge of the stage at the beginning of the new play Dr Semmelweis. He repeats it several more times—to himself, to the audience, to the other characters, to anyone who will listen—as he moves up-stage. This mystifying pronouncement is a deliberate foreshadowing of the events that are about to unfold, as the audience journeys alongside the man—soon identified as Ignaz Semmelweis, a 19th-century Hungarian physician whose simple discovery would eventually change medicine forever.