"A twisted tale of cutthroat competition and personal betrayal — a heck of a story!"— WBUR
"A marvelously gripping mystery." — South Shore Critic
"An exceptional ensemble." — South Shore Critic
"GRIPPING!"— Berkshire Fine Arts
"A mesmerizing tale."— San Diego City Beat
"A tremendous cast...superbly directed."— La Jolla Light
"Marvelous."— Huffington Post

A new treatment promising to end pain pits a doctor and his student in an epic battle between altruism and ambition. Based on the true story of the discovery of ether as an anesthetic in 1846 and set in Boston's own Massachusetts General Hospital, this fascinating new play explores the ecstasy of pain, the sweetness of relief, and the hysteria that erupts when healthcare becomes big business.

Produced in association with Alley Theatre, Hartford Stage, and La Jolla Playhouse.

Approximate run time: two hours and forty minutes including two ten-minute intermissions

Purchase pre-paid valet parking at the Calderwood
Pavilion at the BCA — buy early and save

"Elizabeth Egloff's thrilling new exploration of a revolution in modern medicine unfolds in our own back yard, and our collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital will illuminate a lesser-known chapter of our city's rich history. As our nation grapples with a healthcare overhaul, now is the perfect time for Elizabeth and gifted director Michael Wilson to connect the ramifications of this fascinating event to the world we live in."— Peter DuBois
"I an excited to return to the Huntington with Elizabeth Egloff's exhilarating play about America's greatest medical discovery — anesthesia — and the lives destroyed in the wake of creating a new world without pain. Liz is a fiercely intelligent and deeply human writer who has woven a captivating narrative from true events. Ether Dome holds an unflinching mirror up to our ambitious American character and the ways in which class, greed, and prejudice form a twisted path to innovation."— Michael Wilson

Funded in part by The Ensemble Studio Theatre /
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project


  • The Wild True Tale Behind Ether Dome

    KPBS culture reporter Angela Carone takes us inside the play Ether Dome, and the race to discover painless surgery.


  • The Ether Dome and Beyond

    Warren Zapol, Emeritus Anesthetist-in-Chief of MGH, discusses how the discovery of ether was only the start in a series of critical care developments. Presented by Old South Meeting House and Massachusetts General Hospital.



    Production photos and reviews of ETHER DOME by Elizabeth Egloff, directed by Michael Wilson. 


  • Peter DuBois on Ether Dome

    Artistic Director Peter DuBois shares his insights and behind-the-scenes stories about the Huntington's upcoming production of Ether Dome.



  • An interview with Ether Dome playwright Elizabeth Egloff

    Shirley Fishman, resident dramaturg at La Jolla Playhouse, sat down with Ether Dome playwright Elizabeth Egloff to discuss the inspiration behind the play and why she was the right person to tell this story.


  • Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital

    Read about the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital, watch an MGH presentation about technological innovations in anesthesia, and more.


  • The Origins of the Ether Dome

    The play Ether Dome began when director Michael Wilson, then artistic director of Hartford Stage Company, learned that a Connecticut dentist named Horace Wells “invented” anesthesia...


  • A World Before Anesthetics

    Before anesthetics, “a surgeon would employ six burly men to hold a patient down as the chief surgeon pushed a saw past the sliced muscles, still twitching, and listened as the blade cut through the bone,” says Julie M. Fenster, author of the book Ether Day, detailing the brutal and painful past of modern surgery.


  • Agony without Ecstasy: Surgery before anesthesia

    To a 21st century patient, the only possible reaction to a 19th century operating room is shock and horror.


  • Ether Dome Curriculum Guide

    Student Matinee and and pre-show workshops provide unique opportunities for experiential learning and support


  • Ether Dome Curtain Calls

    Enjoy a series of brief interviews with Ether Dome cast members Michael Bakkensen (Horace Wells), Ken Cheeseman (Agustus Gould), Tom Patterson (William Morton), and Amelia Pedlow (Elizabeth Wales Wells).


Press Reviews

Jump to: Audience Buzz
"A twisted tale of medical advancement, cutthroat competition, and personal betrayal. IT'S A HECK OF A STORY, as rife here with Grand Guignol ans with ethical debate." — WBUR
"A MARVELOUSLY GRIPPING MYSTERY! An exceptional ensemble, and a fascinating journey with a literate script, lively direction, and a cornucopia of delicious deceit, betrayal, and corruption, all that make theatre so grand." — South Shore Critic
"FASCINATING!— Tab/Wicked Local
"GRIPPING!" — Berkshire Fine Arts
"AN ESSENTIAL STORY! If you like to go to the theatre to laugh at yourself a little, get shocked, feel strange sensations in your brain, and emerge strangely calmed, Ether Dome is a gas!" — Hartford Courant
"MARVELOUS!" — Huffington Post
"Indisputably terrific! A fascinating story!" — Houston Chronicle
"A tremendous cast...superbly directed." — La Jolla Light
"A MESMERIZING TALE!" — San Diego City Beat
More Reviews

Audience Buzz

"@huntington's #EtherDome: a fun troubling informative history lesson you should absolutely go see." — @robdamnit

"The play was wonderfully done — acting, stage setting, action." — Louella Hoffman

"Superbly done!"  — Dorothea Mautner

"Fantastic play. We know somethign about the story and were pleased to see how authentic it was." — Louella Hoffman

"Great performances of #EtherDome tonight! Amazing actors. @huntington. " — @worldwidewolfe

"Awesome show! My family and I really enjoyed it." — Colleen Evans


  • Michael BakkensenDr. Horace Wells
  • Greg BallaDr. Henry Bigelow
  • Matthew BarrettGeorge Livingston and others
  • Veronica BarronAlice Mohan and others
  • Ken CheesemanDr. Augustus Gould
  • Nile HawverMedical Student and others
  • Nash HightowerInman and others
  • Richmond HoxieDr. John Collins Warren
  • Bill KuxDr. George Hayward and others
  • Karen MacDonaldMrs. Wadsworth and others
  • Tom PattersonWilliam Morton
  • Amelia PedlowElizabeth Wells
  • Lee SellarsDr. Gardiner Colton and others
  • Liba Vaynberg“Lizzie” Whitman Morton
  • William YoumansDr. Charles Jackson
  • Mac YoungMedical Student and others
  • Elizabeth EgloffPlaywright
  • Michael WilsonDirector
  • James YoumansScenic & Projection Design
  • David C. WoolardCostume Design
  • David LanderLighting Design
  • John GromadaSound Design & Original Music
  • Alex NeumannSound Design
  • Charles LapointeHair & Wig Design
  • Alaine AlldafferCasting
  • Lori LundquistProduction Stage Manager)
  • Kathryn MostStage Manager
  • Shirley FishmanDramaturg

Prices & Seating

Performance Day All Sections

Wednesday matinee

Sunday - Thursday evening; Saturday matinee $82
Friday & Saturday evening;  Sunday matinee $93

Prices may vary and are subject to change at any time.

View Seating Chart (Virginia Wimberly Theatre)  |  Get Directions

Discount Ticket Prices

  All Sections
Active Military and Veterans and Immediate Families
$20 with promo code MILITARY
Student (25 and under); Student matinee $20
Section D (BU Theatre);
Last Row (Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA)
BU Community $10 off
Seniors (65 years or older) $5 off
35 Below (No AA)
Learn more about our 35 Below program

Learn more about our Discount Ticket Programs.


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South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA: 527 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02116
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