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A Question of Mercy

A Question of Mercy
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: David Rabe
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 77
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822216434
ISBN-13: 9780822216438
Cast Size: 1 female, 6 male

About the Play:

A Question of Mercy has become a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues.

A Question of Mercy is a full-length drama by David Rabe. The play involves a man whose life has become a web of symptoms and desperation. Seeking assistance from a well-respected surgeon, he and the doctor devise a complicated plan that must be followed meticulously to relieve the patient's misery. A Question of Mercy is a compelling dramatic event that poses the question: "What would you do?"

A Question of Mercy examines a doctor's struggle to decide if he should facilitate the death of a terminally ill patient. Stricken with AIDS, Anthony's life has become a myriad of endless symptoms and hopeless desperation. With the help of his lover and caretaker, Thomas, and friend, Susanah, Anthony seeks the guidance of an understanding doctor who will put an end to his suffering. He finds Dr. Chapman, a retired surgeon, who is at first unwilling, but is soon persuaded by Anthony's sympathetic charm and dignity to assist in the mercy killing. When Anthony acquires the pills and sets a day for his suicide, Dr. Chapman devises a methodical plan that must be meticulously followed. Suddenly realizing that Dr. Chapman could be convicted of murder, Susanah insists that he not be involved, and soon the doctor is left to confront his own misconceptions of life, death, law and medicine. They all wait helplessly until the hour of Anthony's planned suicide, comforted only by their hope that the wishes of a terminally ill friend will be fulfilled, but, as the time comes and passes, all their wishes and plans are swept aside by a force that proves stronger than any of their desires or decisions. A Question of Mercy was inspired by a 1991 New York Times Magazine article on assisted suicide by Dr. Richard Selzer.

A Question of Mercy premiered in 1997 at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), an Off-Broadway theatre noted for its productions of new work. The Los Angeles premiere was in 2000 at the Pacific Resident Theatre (PRT) in Venice, California.

Cast: 1 female, 6 male

What people say:

"There are many devastating ironies in Mr. Rabe's beautifully considered, piercingly clear-eyed work … Mr. Rabe renders this dark course of thwarted intentions with astonishing elegance, discipline and restraint … Mr. Rabe, in a play that reestablishes him as one of America's preeminent dramatists … has written an exquisitely controlled work about what will forever lie beyond human control." — New York Times

"With unsettling candor and disturbing insight, the play arouses pity and understanding of a troubling subject … Rabe's provocative tale is an affirmation of dignity that rings clear and true." — Variety

"Rarely has a playwright pared down a script with such a skilled hand. Like a surgeon with a scalpel, Rabe has pulled back the flesh to expose the heart of the matter." — BackStage

"A powerful event." — Time Magazine

About the Playwright:

David Rabe has been hailed as one of America's greatest living playwrights. Four of his plays have been nominated for the Tony Award, including one win for Best Play. He is the recipient of an Obie Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Drama Desk Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and three Hull-Warriner Awards for playwriting, among others. He is also the author of numerous screenplays, two critically acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories.

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