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Dr Semmelweis hero image
Dr Semmelweis hero image

Dr Semmelweis Tickets

Harold Pinter Theatre

Mark Rylance stars in this brand new play, inspired by the doctor who fought to revolutionise medical practices in 19th-century Vienna.

An Incredible True Story With Dr Semmelweis Tickets

What use is a discovery if no one believes in it? Dr Semmelweis, starring Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, is a startling and moving new play in the West End with a haunting story about one doctor who fought against the establishment. Catch it at the Harold Pinter Theatre during its strictly limited season for a masterclass performance from Rylance, and a dazzling production that brings the failures and triumphs of history into the present.

What is the Dr Semmelweis play about?

In 19th-century Vienna, thousands of women are dying during childbirth every year. A city famous for its artistic and scientific spirit cannot find a treatment, but Dr Semmelweis has made a discovery. Damned and dismissed by his contemporaries as a mad maverick, Semmelweis is haunted by the women he couldn’t save. What sacrifices must he make to ensure this invisible killer is stopped?

The true story of Ignaz Semmelweis is superbly adapted for the stage in a production that shines a light on a maligned and mistreated pioneer, who died in an asylum but saved many more with his work. Critics praised Dr Semmelweis for its “riveting” (The Guardian) storytelling that is “a tragedy of almost Shakespearean proportions”.

Mark Rylance in Dr Semmelweis

Oscar and Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance stars as the pioneering but misunderstood surgeon who rallied to revolutionise medical practices. He is joined by a talented cast, including a company of dancers who represent the mothers who Semmelweis is haunted by.

Rylance is one of the best British actors working today, with a list of credits including Jerusalem, Farinelli and the King and Nice Fish. On screen, he rocketed to new levels of acclaim in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and has since appeared in Ready Player One, The BFG and Dunkirk.

Rylance not only stars in Dr Semmelweis, he was involved in the production from its very beginning. Rylance’s original idea was developed in collaboration with writer Stephen Brown and director Tom Morris (War Horse), and enjoyed an acclaimed world premiere at Bristol Old Vic in 2022.

Tickets for Dr Semmelweis at the Harold Pinter Theatre Available Now

Book for Dr Semmelweis as soon as possible to discover a compelling slice of history, performed by one of our greatest living stage actors.

Sorry this show closed 07 October 2023, we recommend these similar productions.

A View From the Bridge
Fawlty Towers
Performance dates:
06 Oct 2023 - 07 Oct 2023
Running time:
2 hours and 50 minutes including an interval.
Age recommendation:
Best for age 14+
Audience Notes:
This production contains references to suicide, and infant and maternal mortality.

Please note that the appearance of any performer cannot be guaranteed, and is always subject to illness, injury and statutory holiday entitlement.

Dr Semmelweis Reviews

183 Reviews
  • 5 Stars58%
  • 4 Stars34%
  • 3 Stars4%
  • 2 Stars3%
  • 1 Stars1%

User Reviews


Cannot put into words how much I loved this play. I’m a massive lover of the Pioneers of Antiseptics, Dr Semmelweis being one of my favourites, so this made me absolutely ball. Fantastic talent, the actors, dancer, musicians. MUST SEE for medical his Read more

Performance date: 31 August 2023

A very important story to tell about the discovery of bacteria and the man who discovered it. Dr Semmelweiss is at odds with his peers and they think he and his ideas are mad. It seems that Semmelweiss did have mental health issues, but that should n Read more

Performance date: 28 July 2023

I wanted to see this show because I love watching Mark Rylance on stage. He’s so natural and funny. This play was amazing. A very well staged depiction of an important person in history, beautifully acted, emotive and funny at times. Loved the evo Read more

Performance date: 27 July 2023
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