1 -26 August
Assembly Hall, Baillie Room
With great pride in our NHS, the pain of the unequal American healthcare system always breaks my heart and the pain expressed in Mercy Killers certainly struck a chord. I was moved when I read about this play, yet it is an odd feeling to want to go to a performance that is sure to make you uncomfortable. I choose to use it to remind me of the strength of my values.
Poignant from the start, you can tell the story begins at the end, but the narrative remains unpredictable and captivating throughout. The play evokes a true need for a humanist approach to health, all the more moving as told through the experience of a Republican tea-party faithful, right-wing in his ideals. In the face of adversity, following his wife’s cancer diagnosis with initial treatment bills of $14,000 rising to $500,000 in total, Joe is forced to compromise himself. He is forced to rethink his honest work-ethic. A man who has understood his responsibilities in society, a man who desired love, life and chose a family for his future; all for it to be stolen by a broken system. Quietly demonstrating the impersonal and inhuman nature of politics. Values and beliefs all too easily extreme until you feel them personally.
As a health advocacy piece it emotively illustrates the loss of control when faced with a poor health diagnosis, desperately seeking access to appropriate care and treatment. Part of Harold Clurman Lab Theater group, Michael Milligan certainly does his subject matter justice. His performance is inspired, quite literally. He excellently embodies that desperate need to save a loved one, to save their health, something in the end that simply has no price.
Billed as a solo performance this is more than a one man show, more than a narrative, it’s a dialogue. You feel part of the experience, you empathise and feel you are there to offer comfort to this story, to share the heartbreak and share in the condemnation of this faulty healthcare system. This is sadly no doubt, not just one man’s story, but the story of countless others. The story of a system that abandons its purpose, the story that reminds you that for so many there is no care in their healthcare. A drama to be believed. Four Stars.
Reviewer – Elinor Dickie