New play deals with toughest issues

A brand new play from master playwright David Williamson and doctor Mohamed Khadra will hit Sydney next month before embarking on a tour.

A brand new play from master playwright David Williamson and doctor Mohamed Khadra will hit Sydney next month before embarking on a tour.

At Any Cost? is a world premiere production directed by Sandra Bates that will play at the Ensemble Theatre.

Des (Martin Vaughan) loves his 82 year old wife Faith dearly, but she is gravely ill. The family must decide whether her intensive care treatment should be prolonged.  Des can’t bear to have any part in ending her life, but her three children Katie (Kate Raison), Megan (Tracy Mann) and Max (Tyler Coppin) vary sharply in their attitudes.

The power of modern medicine can prolong life but is there any point if the life prolonged is poor? The family conflict becomes intense, generating both dark humour and shock as devastating family secrets are inevitably revealed.

In an article titled ‘Futility in end-of-life care’ in the most recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, editor Annette Katelaris writes: “It has long been accepted that the majority of an individual’s health care costs are expended during the last few months of life. However, acknowledging the futility of this has not led to the development of effective alternatives. Little work has previously been done in Australia to examine the delivery of care for seriously ill Australians in their last months of life. The findings of one study in this regard are bleak, but perhaps not surprising. Of patients who were suitable for palliative care, 70% had at least one visit to the emergency department and 96% were admitted to hospital during their last year of life, with an average of eight admissions and a mean length of stay of 6 days. Most of the admissions and time spent in hospital occurred within the last 3 months of life, and 62% of patients died in hospital.”

Playwright and Professor of Surgery, Dr Mohamed Khadra explains: “75% of the available health budget in Australia is spent on patients in the last 6 months of life, and 42%  is spent on the last month of life. The ICU is fast becoming the hospice of our society for terminally ill patients.”

Khadra wrote this play At Any Cost? in collaboration with Williamson, “as a way to prepare people for the issues they will face as a family member prepares for the end of life. There are always three perspectives to deal with, the patient’s perspective, the family or carer’s perspective and the medical profession’s perspective. There is often a conflict between the carer’s wishes and the best interests of the patient.”

David Williamson is Australia’s most performed playwright with eleven Australian Writer’s Guild script awards and five Australian Film Institute screenplay awards to his credit.  2011 celebrates his 40th year writing plays for Australian audiences.

Dr Mohamed Khadra is the Professor of Surgery at Sydney University and the author of three compelling books about the medical profession.

The play stars Tyler Coppin, Tracy Mann, Daniel Mitchell, Kate Raison & Martin Vaughan.

It plays at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival later this month, and premieres at the Ensemble Theatre in mid-July.

Bookings: (02) 9929 0644.


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