Whose Life is it Anyway?

Previewed 7 January 2005, Opened 25 January 2005, Closed 30 April 2005 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

A major revival of Brian Clark's play Whose Life is it Anyway? in London, especially updated for this production, starring Kim Cattrall and directed by Sir Peter Hall.

Intelligent, sexy and talented, sculptor Claire Harrison is used to being in control of her life. But then a serious road accident forces her to contemplate a future in which she will remain constantly dependent on those around her.

Left with only the use of her sharp mind, wit and indomitable spirit, Claire will not submit quietly to her fate. She can make us laugh, and often does. She could make us cry, but doesn't want to. What she does want is to be heard and to reclaim the decisions about her own life and death. The play Whose Life Is It Anyway? places the individual at the centre of one of the most complex medical and moral issues of our times - do we have the right to choose how we want to live and when we want to die?

Major technological advances over the past thirty years now allow doctors to keep patients alive irrespective of their quality of life, making the question of freedom of choice even more acute. Now Whose Life is it Anyway? revisits this ongoing debate as this newly updated version invites contemporary audiences to consider some of the most controversial questions they are ever likely to face.

The cast for Whose Life is it Anyway? in London stars Kim Cattrall as 'Claire Harrison' with Janey Suzman with Ann Mitchell, William Chubb, Amita Dhiri, Alexander Siddig, Jotham Annan, Rachel Bavidge and Emma Lowndes. Directed by Peter Hall. Kim Cattrall is best known for her portrayal of 'Samantha Jones' in the award-winning television series Sex and the City. She began her theatrical training at LAMDA before joining the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She made her Broadway debut in 1986 as 'Sofya' opposite Ian McKellen in the National Theatre's production of Chekhov's Wild Honey. This production marks Kim Cattrall's British Theatre debut.

"Brian Clark's hospital drama has been around for more than 30 years and Kim Cattrall brings to it a sturdy talent... She is, however, a little inclined to play Claire - the sculptor paralysed from the neck down in a road accident - all on one note... Originally in this script the patient was a man and Clark has made other changes. There are references to recent cases - the euthanasia debate, the late Christopher Reeve... but here lies a problem: the play still belongs to the time when it was first written, the early 1970s, when patient power and the possibility that doctors might not be omniscient were relatively new and controversial topics. All the updates serve merely to date what would still be a very good play if set in its own time... With Cattrall in feisty fighter mood but no other, there is also the problem of all talk and no action; but that is also the theme of this play." The Daily Express

"What happened to Claire could happen to anyone. The questions raised by the play are if anything even more urgent today than they were when it was first produced in 1978. Yet I am afraid it left me largely unmoved. The issues are real enough, the characters aren't... Since the play's first production, the central character has undergone a sex change. Originally it starred Tom Conti. Now we have got Kim Cattrell, who is the best reason for seeing it. Along with her celebrity appeal (why deny it?), she gives as compelling a performance as the part allows. Elsewhere Peter Hall's production is competent, but not much more. It picks up, though, when we get to the judicial hearing at the end, in which the presiding judge is played, to the manner born, by Janet Suzman." The Sunday Telegraph

"Despite Brian Clark and Peter Hall's insistence that this production should not become a medical soap opera, it's hard not to compare it with today's tele-vision hospital dramas... in contrast with the zippy, compact storytelling of ER and, to a lesser, grimmer extent, Casualty, Clark's heartfelt exploration of the issues feels leaden and dated, a parade of legal and medical ethics voiced by characters as flat as hospital screens... Considering she can do no more than move her head from side to side, Kim Cattrall dominates the play with charismatic ease, a pale and notably unglamorous performance that affectingly conveys a furiously active mind trapped in a paralysed body... Though rich in supporting characters, the play nevertheless moulds them into conveniently didactic roles, polite ciphers for a complex argument." The Sunday Times

"Kim Cattrall, the siren of Sex And The City, is , as you might expect, in bed. As Claire, a sculptor paralysed from the neck down in Brian Clark's poignant comedy Whose Life Is It Anyway?, she may be flat on her back, but this funny, intelligent, feisty woman is refusing to take things lying down... She cannot imagine triumphing over her condition. Worst of all, she despises herself for the smutty double entendres she drops to hospital orderlies out of deeply felt sexual frustration. She wants to be given the freedom to take control of her own destiny: she wants to be allowed to die. Clark's play is, in essence, a dramatisation of the euthanasia argument that we're more familiar with today than we were in 1978. Peter Hall's efficient production can't disguise the fact that it's not a great play - the characters are too obviously representatives of a particular point of view, and some of the dialogue is irretrievably clunky - but he ensures that it remains an absorbing, provocative piece... While Cattrall occasionally overcompensates for her paralysed body with exaggerated facial expressions, she proves herself to be an accomplished actor: sexy from just the neck up, and, with her anger and thwarted energy, both moving and persuasive. If she often appears to be attempting to communicate with the deaf, it is because, to a degree, she is doing precisely that." The Mail on Sunday

Whose Life is it Anyway? in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 7 January 2005, opened on 25 January 2005 and closed on 30 April 2005.