Theatre in Review

Greenhouse Theater Center and Poor Box Theater, in association with D.C’s award winning Taffety Punk Theatre Company, is pleased to present THE AMERICAN MERCY TOUR: MERCY KILLERS and SIDE EFFECTS, two one-act plays steeped in America’s controversial relationship with healthcare. Written and performed by Michael Milligan and directed by Tom Oppenheim, these moving and unapologetic pieces will be presented as a single theatrical event, immersing the audience in the stories of patients and physicians, coming out of the waiting room and into the fray. 
 
MERCY KILLERS and SIDE EFFECTS will play September 7 – October 8, 2017 at The Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Studio), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets (pay-what-you-want) are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. 
 
In MERCY KILLERS, Joe, a blue-collar red state auto mechanic faced with his wife’s failing health, must grapple with the stark divide between his values and his reality. Pushed to the breaking point by debt, disease and a busted system, Joe must decide what compromises he will make to keep his wife alive. MERCY KILLERS is all at once a tender love story and an unblinking look at those the system leaves behind.
 
Flipping to the other side of the stethoscope, SIDE EFFECTS follows William, a family practice physician on the brink of burnout. Caught between his ambition to become the healer his father once exemplified and the corporatization of his chosen profession, William must reconcile the art and business of medicine, or be forced to lose his practice. In this Chicago premiere, we see the human side of those who heal us, throwing light onto the turmoil that remain out of sight from the examination table.

“Michael Milligan is one of those rare theatre artists who can combine his craft, intellect and activism in a perfect storm of unapologetically political performance,” comments Greenhouse Theater Center Artistic Director Jacob Harvey. “These pieces and the issues they explore are increasingly important in our political moment, but what truly sets them apart is their unwillingness to simplify. Milligan’s pieces are bi-partisan and in their splendid, terrifying honesty put faces to the statistics and figures we so easily grow numb to.”

History of “The American Mercy Tour”

“I wrote Mercy Killers in response to a number of personal encounters with the healthcare system,” comments Michael Milligan. “A good friend of mine showed up at the Folger Theatre stage door after a show, carrying a small duffle bag, in which he had all of his belongings. He’d been living on the streets for a couple years. I invited him back to my place, where I discovered he also had a number of medical problems, a slipped disk in his neck from a fall and a golf ball size lump on his arm. I took it on myself to try to get him in to see someone. The difficulty of that blew my mind. It was overwhelming. If I lived in any number of other nations, I could have made an appointment and walked my friend to a doctor’s office, and the first question would not have been ‘what insurance do you have.’” 

“The situation for many healthcare workers is also desperate.” Milligan says, “there’s even diagnostic terminology now for it, it’s called ‘moral distress.’ It’s crippling doctors and nurses; many of them are burning out and leaving the profession. The medical literature says that ‘moral distress occurs when one knows the ethically correct action to take but feels powerless to take that action.’ The healthcare system becomes more bureaucratized and corporatized every year, medical decisions are increasingly influenced by claims analysts, hospital administrators, and entitlement bureaucrats, Side Effects is a meditation on the conflicts of interest that arise as a result.” 

The impulse to create Side Effects was similarly visceral. When Milligan was on the road performing Mercy Killers, he started interviewing doctors and nurses in each community. Side Effects has already been well received by the medical community, including a special presentation by the Mayo Clinic. 

"Michael Milligan has captured the sum total of pressures that confront today's physicians in Side Effects. A realistic, engaging and very dramatic portrayal of the life of an average doctor trying to meet the demands of a busy practice as he nearly succumbs to a breakdown and considers leaving the profession he loves so much. Anyone involved in medicine, from the caregivers to the patients we serve, would benefit from seeing this performance." –Robert E McAfee MD, Former President, American Medical Association.

PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Titles: MERCY KILLERS and SIDE EFFECTS
Written and performed by: Michael Milligan
Director: Tom Oppenheim 
 
Location The Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Studio) 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Dates: Previews: Thursday, September 7 at 8 pm
Press Performance: Friday, September 8 at 8 pm
Regular run:  Saturday, September 9 – Sunday, October 8, 2017
Curtain times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. 
Tickets: Pay-what-you-want. Tickets are currently available at greenhousetheater.org, in person at the box office or by calling (773) 404-7336. 

 
   

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

Register

Latest Articles

  • Review: Machinal at Greenhouse Theater Center
    Written by
    Machinal refers to an automated or mechanical system. Sophie Treadwell's 1929 play "Machinal" takes its styling from this theme. Directed by Jacob Harvey, Greenhouse Theater Center brings this work back to Chicago for the first time in many years. Maybe…
  • "The Rembrandt" begins September 7th with John Mahoney and Francis Guinan
    Written by
    Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 42nd Season with the Chicago premiere of The Rembrandt, written by Jessica Dickey and directed by Hallie Gordon. Currently in rehearsals, this subtle and elegant play features ensemble members Francis Guinan as Henry/Rembrandt and John…
  • Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia
    Written by
    The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet. The act that has graced the stages with the most famous performers at Woodstock has come to Ravinia in Highland…
  • Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few
    Written by
    I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it happened. I even took my Mom who is as big a fan as I am. Warming up for Delbert was…