An Instinct for Kindness (4 stars)

This article is from 2011.

An Instinct for Kindness

Photography | Steve Ullathorne

Dignitas tale told with dignity

Last year, Chris Larner accompanied his ex-wife Allyson to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland and watched as she drank a liquid that would swiftly end her life. Here, with just a simple chair as a prop, Larner recounts the days, weeks and years leading up to that final journey, touching on the physical, emotional and political effects of his wife’s illness and her decision to end her life.

There is no doubting the commitment of Larner’s performance, as he conveys the emotions of himself, Allyson, her sister and their son, George – dry humour creeping in when the reality of her decision becomes too raw to bear. Larner, for the most part, manages the balance well, never striving to make a deliberate political statement (though his stance is clear); rather, he lets the politics, the fear and desperation of their story speak for itself. The detail of everything is communicated without sentimentality, from the last phone message from their son, which Allyson will never hear to the tender instruction of the Dignitas nurse.

Whatever your personal response is to Allyson’s journey and Larner’s closeness to the story, this is highly moving and engaging theatre.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 4.10pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).

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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