Play by Brian Clark. 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?
Brian Clark originally wrote this play for television - it was broadcast on ITV on 12 March 1972 with Ian McShane playing the role of 'Ken Harrison' - before adapting it for the stage.
Original West End London Production 1978
Previewed 1 March 1978, Opened 6 March 1978, Closed 10 June 1978 at the Mermaid Theatre
Transferred 13 June 1978, Closed 27 October 1979 at the Savoy Theatre
The cast at London's Mermaid Theatre and the original cast at the West End's Savoy Theatre features Tom Conti as 'Ken Harrison', Jane Asher as 'Dr Scott', Sebastian Shaw as 'Mr Justice Millhouse', Jennie Goossens as 'Sister Anderson', Phoebe Nicholls as 'Kay Sadler', Trevor Thomas as 'John', Richard Leech as 'Dr Emerson', Rona Anderson as 'Margaret Boyle', Richard Ireson as 'Philip Hill', Alan Brown as 'Peter Kershaw', Robert Gary as 'Andrew Eden', Peter Honri as 'Dr Barr', and Edward Lyon as 'Dr Paul Travers'.
Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, with designs by Alan Tagg, and lighting by Andy Phillips.
The role of 'Ken Harrison' was played by Tom Conti from 1 March 1978 to Saturday 3 March 1979; and by Bill Patterson from Monday 5 March 1979 to Saturday 27 October 1979.
1st West End London Revival 2005
Previewed 7 January 2005, Opened 25 January 2005, Closed 30 April 2005 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)
A major revival of Brian Clark's Whose Life is it Anyway? in London starring Kim Cattrall
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 featured Kim Cattrall as 'Claire Harrison', Alexander Siddig as 'Dr Scott', Janet Suzman as 'Mrs Justice Millhouse', Ann Mitchell as 'Sister Anderson', Emma Lowndes as 'Kay Sadler', Jotham Annan as 'John', William Chubb as 'Dr Emerson', Rachel Bavidge as 'Margaret Boyle', Amita Dhiri as 'Helen Hill', Gareth Clarke, Wela Frasier, Maggie Guess, Olivia Thompson, and Peter Donaldson.
Directed by Peter Hall, with designs by Lucy Hall, lighting by Paul Pyant, and sound by Gregory Clarke.
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.
Janet Suzman's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Babe' in Anthony Page's production of Sean Mathias' Cowardice at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1983; the title role in Keith Hack's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1977; 'Masha' in Jonathan Miller's revival of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters at the Cambridge Theatre in 1976; 'Katharina' in Trevor Nunn's revival of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Aldwych Theatre in 1967; and 'Celia' in David Jones's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Aldwych Theatre in 1967.
"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
"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 Comedy Theatre previewed from 7 January 2005, opened on 25 January 2005, and closed on 30 April 2005