One of the charms of Edinburgh is the potential to find genius in
unlikely places. Good Death, a verbatim play about Doctor
Kevorkian and the debate on euthanasia, is just such an occasion: a
play about death that deserves an extremely long life.
This is a masterpiece, performed to perfection by 14 students from
Western Michigan University (on whose research it is based) and
directed with understatement, precision and flair by Joan Herrington.
Aided considerably by Matthew A Knewston’s lighting and the Craig
Armstrong-influenced music by Victoria Blade and Crystal Lucas Perry,
the heavy documentary one might expect becomes a stunning theatrical
Kevorkian, the “reluctant celebrity” advocate for euthanasia (superbly
played by Ethan Hedeen) is the initial focus. “I can’t go on living a
hypocritical life where I can’t do what I know is right” he says at
one of his trials. The play broadens to consider death itself, and the
merits (or otherwise) of euthanasia through individual stories, two of
which had tears rolling down my face. Someone describes Kevorkian’s
personality as “quiet, calm, interested and understanding”. The same
must be said for the terrific ensemble of stars, with Cornelius D
Davidson and Adam Jeffrey Pasen the first among equals.
This is the most compelling, brilliantly executed verbatim drama since
The Laramie Project a decade ago. I don’t expect to see a
better show at Edinburgh this year.