(Robert) Brian Clark Gary Jay Williams - Essay

Gary Jay Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Whose life is it anyway?, one] does wish Clark might have resisted the occasional gaudy, tendentious line such as Ken's closing line in the bedside court hearing, "If I cannot be a man, I do not wish to be a medical achievement." But on the whole, Clark has made his man so acutely honest with himself and has so effectively arranged the circumstances to make Ken's arguments manifestly correct, that audiences are hopeful from first to last that Ken will have his victory.

The play rises above being a topical polemic of any kind (much less on euthanasia, a term the popular press too loosely applies to the play) by virtue of Clark's nicely rounded characters. He does not oversimplify, even in his handling of the medical professionals where (unless I mistake audience reponses) it would be easy to create villains. One does not long doubt that the officiously professional chief physician … is working in good faith to preserve his patient's life. At the end, it is he who offers to see Ken through the six days it will take him to die, once the extraordinary measures are stopped. A young woman physician grows to have much personal affection for Ken and much respect for his arguments, though she stands to suffer much if he wins. The young solicitor Ken enlists … is not ambitious to argue the issue but comes to be convinced (in a scene with the chief physician that elicits applause) that without the law, his client's life is not his...

(The entire section is 462 words.)