With an increasingly aging population, many of whom will be suffering from long term and incurable illnesses, the question of the right to die well has for the past couple of years been at the forefront of public imagination.
Now, the end of our lives isn’t something we really tend to talk about too often and perhaps for good reason. But we all know that at some point, and it will happen to us all, death will tap us on the shoulder and tell us that it is time to leave the party.
It has, of course, always been discussed or joked about behind closed doors. I have permission to visit my Father with a cricket bat should the need become desirable, though I sometimes think of visiting him anyway, regardless of whether the need be desirable or not. But the message of quality of life is always there. And it is only now, thanks hugely to the wonderful documentaries of Sir Terry Pratchett, that we can now begin to have a serious and thoughtful conversation about our right to die.
Tonight’s show, Good Death, explores this very question. Centring around the court case of Dr Jack Kevorkian (aka Dr. Death), the piece feeds off the many interviews undertaken of patients, hospice workers, clergy, prolife activists and many, many more. Each laying down their experience. Each having a voice. Though some of those voices have now, sadly and inevitably, fallen silent.
It is extremely rare for me to shed a tear and even more rare to, God forbid, give a standing ovation at a Fringe show, particularly one as young and fresh looking as this. But tonight I saw near absolute perfection.
The cast are absolutely beyond words. They are so unbelievably good at what they do, which apparently is everything. They have travelled so far to be here (Michigan to be exact), but they are all going to go so much further.
The show is sad, as you might expect, but it is also uplifting and even funny in places. The subject is treated with such respect, humanity and life. And it is life, not death, that this show is really all about.
They are not here for too much longer, so I urge you to catch them when you can. If anything it will get you thinking and hopefully questioning, which can only ever be a good thing.
As the show clearly demonstrates, the zeitgeist is shifting. The time has come for a change and perhaps, maybe and hopefully, in our lifetime we will be able to meet our end, if needs be, in a way which pleases us. Or, as Terry Pratchett once said when describing how he would like to go, “in my own home, in a chair on the lawn with a brandy in my hand...and with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death”.
Show times: 8 - 13 August, 21:40
Ticket prices: £5.00 (£4.00)