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by Amy Humphreys
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Well-acted assisted suicide drama raises good questions - but gives no new answers
In Reunion, husband and wife team Roberta Taylor and Peter Guinness play a long-married couple who are faced with the crippling dilemma of valuing how much a human life is worth, when lawyer Raymond is diagnosed with the degenerative and incurable motor neurone disease.
The play unfolds over the final 24 hours of his life, as his wife – a committed Catholic - engages in a moral struggle between her faith and her love for her husband.
Faced with the prospect that his current paralysis, incontinence and bitterness is as good as it will get, Raymond, with his coercive lawyer’s rhetoric, convinces Antonia to throw aside her religious misgivings and assist in his suicide.
Written by John Caine and directed by Jermyn Street’s associate director Anthony Biggs, the play never quite succeeds in reaching beyond theory into drama.
Guinness gives a strong performance from the confines of his wheelchair and Taylor also works hard to make the most of what is by definition a rather static setting.
While the play raises many valid questions - the difference between sin and crime; how a daughter copes with her father’s seventh age; is there a correct way to face up to death? - the script has nothing new to offer to this ongoing debate, and the production lacks that visceral bite to really hook its audience.
* Reunion is at the Jermyn Street Theatre in Jermyn Street, SW1, until May 5