Photo courtesy of Lia Chang
Photo courtesy of Lia Chang


As residents of the “land of the free and home of the brave”, we are  indoctrinated from an early age that the American dream is obtainable with just a bit of hard work and determination.  For most, it is achievable. By proverbially “rolling up our sleeves” and “putting a little elbow grease into it”,  we can reap the benefits of our labor by acquiring basic necessities and  even enjoying luxuries as a self-reward. Alternatively, there remains a majority of people who have played by these rules–muddling through the every day grind with mettle and handling  adversity with fortitude—and yet they still manage to come up short. Joe is in that majority.

Michael’s Milligan’s blistering one man drama, Mercy Killers, explores the frustrations and inequalities of a failed  healthcare system through the eyes of this  average “Joe”. This hour-long, literal examination is effectively staged in a black box, bare bones theater, where our protagonist is defending himself in an interrogation room for a “crime” that blurs the lines of convention.

Milligan, who both wrote and performs the show, paints a comprehensive and challenging portrait of a wounded man exhausted by a circle of despair and grief. His arsenal of rationale is depleted.  Milligan’s everyman language resonates and pierces and although we can relate to elements of his plight, we hope never to fully confront its’ level of severity.

After reaching for our coats and trudging through the somber audience, my guest and I  engaged in a conversation about Milligan’s exceptional work.  Questions were posed and even more  left unanswered about the lengths at which our leading player could have gone to have prevented his outcome . Each of us had differing opinions, but we created a dialogue about this crucial crisis. In our ever-present day of political discourse, finger-pointing, and profitable racket over  healthcare, Milligan manages to strip down the arguments by humanizing them  to a frustrating, but immensely profound  degree.

Mercy Killers, now playing off-Broadway now through February 2nd at the Stella Adler Studio Theater, 31 W. 27th street between Broadway and 6th ave. Playing Feb. 5th through Feb. 16th in the NYC Metropolitan Area.  For more information and tickets,