The creator of ‘Assisted Suicide: The Musical’ says euthanasia denies the value of people who have illnesses or disabilities.
Liz Carr, an actress with disabilities created a popular London musical to speak out against assisted suicide...
So she created a musical. Much of “Assisted Suicide” involves Ms. Carr taking on her alter ego, a character named Documentary Liz. Film footage shows Documentary Liz living a humdrum disabled life, while a lachrymose melody plays and a narrator dourly describes the scene: “Liz feels trapped, imprisoned by her difficult circumstances. Liz has few freedoms, few choices on a day-to-day basis.”
Onstage, the real Ms. Carr rolls her eyes and provides a running commentary, acidly mocking the documentary clichés. “Music is always used very manipulatively,” she tells me. “The music feeds the emotional journey. It tells you, ‘This is a tragedy. This has one way to go.’ ” The aim is to normalize a choice that was unthinkable a generation ago, with the result that people like her are impelled to conclude: “You know what, my life isn’t worth living.”
Growing up with a severe disability, Ms. Carr recalls, “life was bleak.” She excelled at academics, but no amount of therapy seemed to improve her physical ability. She was never consciously suicidal, “but I didn’t see a future or an escape. I couldn’t see a point. So in that sense I’ve been to very dark places.” She pressed on, however, and now enjoys national prominence as an actress and disability activist.
Ms. Carr, who was born in 1972, considers herself lucky that euthanasia wasn’t on the cultural radar when she was young. “Assisted suicide has become part of the narrative of death, of illness, of disability,” she says. That was the work of euthanasia proponents, who knew that “it takes 15 to 20 years to get social support and to get the culture to change—then you pass the law.”