Chris Larner - An Instinct for Kindness

This article is from 2011

An Instinct for Kindness

True-life assisted suicide tale at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

Having earned her third major Fringe award for last year’s forensic, verbatim one-man show Lockerbie: Unfinished Business, director Hannah Eidinow moves one step closer to her subject matter here. With An Instinct For Kindness, solo performer Chris Larner tells first-hand of accompanying his ex-wife Allyson to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to undergo an assisted suicide.

‘She was vibrant, she was funny, she was a strong woman,’ says Larner of Allyson, ‘which made her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis so much sadder.’ When Larner returned from Switzerland, he found himself relating excerpts of a tale rich in poignancy and irony. ‘Allyson was an actor and a very good theatre teacher,’ he says, ‘and she believed very much that theatre has a political responsibility, that it can transform both performer and audience and be a power for good.’

While Larner says the piece isn’t an exercise in outright advocacy, his experience has led him to believe a change of UK law is required concerning assisted suicide. ‘The moral outrage that people express towards it should perhaps be redirected. The real outrage is that there are so many people who feel so desperate, who aren’t getting the help they obviously need from society.’ This is Larner and Allyson’s story, but it’s part of a wider debate that affects all of us.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 10, 17), 4.10pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews until 5 Aug, £5.

An Instinct for Kindness

  • 4 stars

Last year, Chris Larner accompanied his terminally ill ex-wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic. This moving, bittersweet show reflects on the circumstances, morality and humanity surrounding the journey. Directed by triple Fringe First-winner, Hannah Eidinow.


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