A Question of Mercy

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Grove Press, 1998 - Drama - 117 pages
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David Rabe's work has been honored by numerous Tony nominations and Obie Awards, and he has won critical acclaim from the Drama Desk, Variety, the New York Drama Critics Society, and the Outer Critics Circle. In his new play, A Question of Mercy, which premiered at New York Theatre Workshop, he explores the controversial and emotional issue of euthanasia, delving deep into the ties that bind friends and lovers.

A Question of Mercy ventures into the living room and the lives of Thomas and Anthony, lovers who are struggling with Anthony's final, exhausting battle with AIDS. Joined by their friend Susanah and a retired doctor, whose help Thomas has requested, they fashion a heartbreaking friendship as they work through the stages of a plan meant to relieve Anthony of his illness and his life. Each character struggles with the moral and legal issues that attend the decision to help Anthony die -- is this murder or mercy? A Question of Mercy is a challenging journey into the characters' emotions and the battles that develop from their loving promise to let Anthony die with dignity.

Writing with tremendous clarity and insight, Rabe creates a passionate depiction of four people battling with the love, law, and morality that surround a loved one's fight with death.

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About the author (1998)

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Rabe was educated at Loras College and Villanova. His service in Vietnam has had a major influence on his work, particularly in his early plays. In 1971 both The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, which traces a soldier's life from basic training to an ugly and ironic death in Vietnam, and Sticks and Bones, a slightly absurdist play that combines broad satire of U.S. family life with a realistic portrayal of the suffering of a blind veteran, were produced at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Rabe's other plays of the 1970s were also produced there. Streamers (1976), which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, is the most notable of his Vietnam plays. Set in an army barracks, it is a powerful presentation of the destruction that can result from blind, uncontrolled rage. Hurlyburly (1985), which concerns the hollow lifestyle of a group of hip southern California men, began a long run on Broadway in 1984. As with many of Rabe's other plays, it explores the horrors that can result from distorted ideas of masculinity. Another recent play, Goose and Tomtom (1987), is a forceful drama about two small-time jewel thieves. In it, Rabe explores the theme of the illusory nature of reality.

Richard Selzer is the author of numerous books and articles. He is a former surgeon and professor of surgery. Selzer taught writing at Yale University and is the recipient of dozens of awards and honors, including a Pushcart Prize, National Magazine Award (for his essays), an American Medical Writer's Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship. His work has been published in "New American Review, Esquire, Harper's", and other periodicals.

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