One of the cardinal rules of theatre reviewing is that you’re not supposed to talk about the play until you’ve left the venue. This is ostensibly to stop critics influencing one another’s opinions, to force them to make up their own minds, but there’s another — better — reason, as I discovered last week. On the way out of Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a revival of Brian Clark’s hardy perennial directed by Peter Hall, I lingered in the foyer to discuss it with a colleague. I wasn’t very nice about it, but, to my astonishment, he was. ‘Shurely shome mishtake?’ I started to express myself more forcefully, but before I could get too carried away he indicated that I might want to take a look behind me. There, standing not three feet away, was Fu Manchu himself.
Ironically enough, I thought the best thing about Whose Life Is It Anyway? was the direction. To be fair, it’s not badly acted, either, though Kim Cattrall in the central part is, at best, mediocre. No, the main problem with Whose Life Is It Anyway? is that it’s just an extremely feeble play. Indeed, it’s not really a play at all so much as a thinly dramatised edition of The Moral Maze. It concerns the plight of a brilliant sculptor who is paralysed from the neck down after a car accident and, as a result, wants the hospital to pull the plug on her. In short, it’s that old chestnut: is it right for a hospital to do everything in its power to prevent a person from dying even if his or her quality of life has deteriorated so dramatically that he or she doesn’t want to go on living?
Brian Clark makes almost no attempt to flesh out any of the characters.