Review: Assisted Suicide:The Musical at Tramway


Claire Willoughby, Liz Carr and Isaac Bernier-Doyle

Of course, the issue of assisted suicide in a musical pastiche wasn’t going to be for everyone.Especially on a Saturday night- people just wanna be entertained, right? Hmmpphh. There are a few walk-outs tonight. If only they had stuck around.

Liz Carr‘s piece, part of Unlimited Festival at Tramway is a unique and glorious thing- a parody which really matters, and goes to places others can only dream of.It’s hugely important and heady stuff, exquisitely directed by Mark Whitelaw, which provokes debate long after the lights fade. Activist and actor Carr, who along with her friends, has been campaigning against the bill for assisted suicide (which was rejected last September) believes that passing this law would lead to state intervention in health matters. Above all, she loves life, and loves her autonomy.

In Company Collective ‘s provocative show mocks the emotionally manipulative BBC bulletins on the disabled, along with the perceptions of disabled people as less than happy, articulate or worthwhile members of society.

And the songs- holy shit- the songs! Composed by Ian Hill, they are excellent, trenchant and catchy. Beautifully performed by Carr and her amazing cast, the lyrics are jaw-dropping, cleverly skewering societal mores and the toe-curling tropes of Lloyd-Weber et al. Me and the Pope has an acid David James as The Pope spitting out Joan Rivers one-liners; wide-eyed ballad Put Me Down kicks romance where it lives, the self-explanatory Suicide Tourist is brutal, and the high-stepping Palliative Claire is cheekily performed by Claire Willoughby as a kind of Sally Bowles of terminal illness nursing.All of these make you yearn for more musical theatre like this.


Claire Willoughby as ‘Palliative Claire’

Carr is an engaging, witty performer. Her barbs about Digitas being inaccessible to wheelchair users (‘Thank God’) focus groups trying to ‘re-brand’ euthanasia, and the film Me Before You which romanticises disability are so funny, precisely because they are rooted in truth.

Everyone must see this show- a scabrous, intelligent and really rather beautiful piece which may even challenge your belief system… can’t say that about Cats.

(Lorna Irvine)



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