‘Assisted Suicide’ is a key, controversial debate made into a musical. Should everyone with a disability or a terminally ill condition have the right to end their own lives with the assistance of others?

This is a hot topic that the writer and narrator, Liz Carr, strongly opposes. Liz is a physically disabled woman whose comedy and politics have been fascinatingly combined. Performed in a section of the ultra-impressive Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank centre, the cast of six take everyone in the audience through the process of assisted suicide in a comic, musical way. Although first impressions might be bad, stay and watch the musical. To see a debate performed like this help make all of us learn both sides of the story.

The plot follows Liz as she comes to the conclusion that assisted suicide is the path for her. Playing herself in two forms, the first is being Liz in person. This character is against assisted suicide. The second form uses a large television at the corner of the stage playing pre-recorded videos of Liz fictionally pro assisted suicide. The two characters constantly debate with each other about the next stage in the process. Scenes include Liz finding out the process of assisted suicide, how and where to get it done, which practice is one in which she feels comfortable and how endings come about. As well as the rest of the cast playing the roles of nurses, doctors and suicide assistants to help Liz’s story, throughout the musical there are intermittent scenes telling other stories. These include two young lovers deciding whether assisted suicide is the path for them and a clergyman declaring how hard life is considering the politics he has to stand up for.

Liz joined with the director, Mark Whitelaw, to put a serious political taboo on stage. This is aimed to make people strongly support the rejection of the Assisted Dying Bill by Parliament in 2015. Mark has helped make the set simple, yet informative, and the story cleverly spaced out with love, joy and worrying songs through the means of different voices. To use the medium of television for a character was ingenious. Liz, keen to declare herself as a proud disabled lesbian, made her two main points. First: although assisted suicide might be right for a minimal amount of people, if it were legalised unwarranted depression would affect the nation’s death rate badly. Keeping it illegal is for the greater good. Second: if both sides of the debate put their £500k p.a. funding into one pot then the small amount of people genuinely suffering would have a fund to make their last few months better. My main rejection to the musical though is the minimum age of 14; this should be 18! Without the program informing parents of the ultra-severity of the political issues and swear words regularly used, a bad mistake was made.


Banner Image by Rachel Cherry