Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Life Is It Anyway?
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.
Death or indignity? The question hinges on
whether man has the right to decide his own destiny when others
are sworn to uphold his life.
Incredibly, although it is more than 40 years since Brian
Clark's play first pinpointed the issue, it remains heart-breakingly
A second, and equally important, question raised is whether
a wish to die should be linked to insanity. The play's central
character, paralysed from the neck down after a car accident,
finds himself pitted from his hospital bed against what he
calls the "optimism industry".
It's a remarkable work and a huge challenge to stage, but
Rod Wilkinson's production leaps mighty hurdles to achieve
the warmth and humour as well as the tragedy underlying the
Two stunning performances pave the way for an unforgettable
evening. Pete Gillam, bed-bound throughout, achieves a portrayal
of great sensitivity as Harrison the patient, alternating
abrasive humour with moments of despairing anger, most effectively
realised when he verbally savages an inoffensive woman social
It's a fine, penetrating piece of work, as is Sandy Robertson's
acute study of the head physician who is, in reality, Harrison's
nemesis, rigidly following the dogma of life preservation
at all costs. There is also an underlying fragility to this
figure as the long-held principles of his work are thrown
While the play's overall premise stands fast, dialogue is
updated in places to presereve its relevance to today. On
a crisp, sharply-lit set, movement around our paralysed hero
is brisk and naturalistic and there is strong conviction in
supporting performances by Andy Bayliss as a so-typical solicitor
and Chris Ives, Christine Carpenter and Julie Godfrey as medical