Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Whose Life Is It Anyway?"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"Whose Life Is It Anyway?"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Attleboro Community Theatre's first show of their 48th season is Brian Clark's Tony Award winning play, "Whose Life Is It Anyway?". Originally written as a television play in 1972, it later became a hugely successful stage play in London in 1978, starring Tom Conti who won the Tony for Best Actor in 1979. The show is about Ken Harrison, a successful sculptor who becomes a quadriplegiac in a car accident and is kept alive by support systems in a hospital. Outwardly he's cheerful and often very funny, but he is overwhelmed by the fact that he has lost control of his own life. Ken is coming to the decision that if he can't live as a man he does want to exist as a medical achievement. His physician, however, is utterly determined to preserve Ken's life, regardless of its quality. Finally, despite the pleas of the doctor and his involved nurse, Ken invokes the law of habeas corpus and a judge joins the battle to determine---Whose Life Is It Anyway? Director Bev Darling chooses the best people for this show which shows both sides of the euthanasia debate and it delivers a powerful punch with its brilliant mixture of comedy and pathos.

Bev directs the show in 3/4 round to involve the audience more fully in it. The focal point is Ken Harrison's hospital bed with a nurse's station and a doctor's office as the other playing areas. Arthur Osborne delivers a tour de force performance as the paralyzed Ken Harrison. He is onstage the whole time and can only move his head but his acting prowess shines through with his enormous amounts of dialogue and wonderful facial expressions which capture the laughter and the tears at the plight of this character. Arthur interacts with his fellow 13 performers with ease. Bravo on a job well done.

His fellow actors do topnotch work, too. Heather Carey is the proper head nurse who takes care of all her patients with great care. Jack Ferdman steals the show with his comic antics as the flippant constantly singing attendant, John. (He plays Ken as a drum set and moves his hands back and forth leading to many laughs.) John flirts with nursing student, Liana Stillman who helps Ken by talking to and feeding him. The kindly doctor, Joan Scott is well played by Evelyn Holley, a beautiful brunette who ends up caring for her patient enough to help him live his life the way he wants to. The by-the-book, thick headed head doctor Emerson is played with stern authority by Dennis Magee. He brings in a well meaning social worker played by Joyce Searles and a cleaning fanatic shrink played by Charles Arouth. Ken's lawyer is well played by Stephen LeBlanc and his associate who comes up with the habeas corpus plan is played by Donald Grady.Judge Millhouse who decides Ken's fate is played by veteran actor, Ron Mutton with a firm hand and autocratic bearing. The hospital attorney is handled with ease by William Castro while Sandra Malley plays the sympathetic shrink who helps Ken's cause and Valerie Coogan plays the night nurse. So for an outstanding show whose subject matter might be off putting but is really a splendid mixture of comedy and drama, be sure to catch "Whose Life Is It Anyway?". You won't be disappointed. Just tell them Tony sent you.

"Whose Life Is It Anyway?" ( 15 - 30 October)
ATTLEBORO COMMUNITY THEATRE
5 John Dietsch Square, North Attleboro, MA
1 (508) 226-8100 or

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