On Saturday I saw a play about a father who must consider what will happen to his disabled son when he can no longer care for him. I was uncomfortable, troubled and sad watching Kill Me Now at Winnipeg’s Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre. I was uncomfortable with the scene where the father helps his son masturbate. I was troubled by the father’s lack of concern about his teenager smoking marijuana, the aunt who regularly mixed drinking and driving and the separation of sex from love and/or commitment in a number of the relationships. I was saddened by the multiple tragedies that had been visited upon the family in the play and moved to tears at the end when a character chooses to end their own life.
Kill Me Now has been criticized for making the life of a family dealing with a disabled child seem way too troubling and terrible. Dea Birkett, the father of a disabled daughter writes a scathing review of the play in The Guardian. He list many stereotypes people have about families living with a disabled child and says Kill Me Now reinforces most of them. In response playwright Brad Fraser insists you can’t write a drama without conflict. He had to include lots of problems in order to have an engaging play. I’m thinking the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between the realities Birkett and Fraser posit.
Kill Me Now had me wondering how society could provide better support to families trying to meet the needs of their children who live with physical and mental challenges. It made me think about what kind of legislation and assistance might ease the pain of people who are considering difficult end of life decisions. The play forced me to reflect on what I would do if faced with the same dilemmas and tragedies as its’ characters.
Kill Me Now made me uncomfortable, troubled and sad but I’m really glad I saw it.