On Friday, September 12, acclaimed actor and playwright Michael Milligan visited Lehigh University to open the 2014-2015 Notations series. Michael shared his one-man play, Mercy Killers, about blue collar 'Joe', a man who grapples with his red state ideals when he realizes the measures he must take to care for his beloved wife.
Mercy Killers, written and performed solely by Michael Milligan, was a enthralling one man show. In it, Milligan plays Joe, a man of simple tastes with an all-American mindset and a very sick wife. Without insurance, Joe and his wife Jane struggle along as Joe's world is flipped upside down. Milligan is a convincing actor and plays the role of a conservative "redneck" well enough to convince a viewer from backwoods Pennsylvania that he is the real deal. The play was extremely enjoyable to watch, capturing and keeping the audience's attention for the whole performance.
Milligan's performance could become a bit loud at points, shaking the audience and drawing your attention back in if you had wandered. This technique became cumbersome when the plot was only just developing at the beginning of the performance, and it made it a little hard to follow originally. As the performance continued, the wrinkles in the plot were effectively ironed out and the performance became very enjoyable as you listened to Joe's story. As the only character in his show, Milligan was tasked with the responsibility of carrying the entire show himself, and it was extremely captivating and interesting to watch such a process occur.
The idea of a one man show can be daunting to a viewer who has never been to such a show before, but Milligan made the transition from a typical theatre performance to a single man show very easy. He is a very talented actor and playwright, and the detail put into the script only served to enhance the show, instead of burdening the audience with too much to handle, which may occur in other performances. The story was a relatable one, and brought up several issues that many in our society are dealing with today. As our country attempts to make a health care system that incorporates and cares for everyone, Mercy Killers points out our current failings in a way that makes it easy to relate to. The audience aches for Joe's wife as she continues to get sicker and sicker, and rallies for Joe as he becomes frustrated with the system as it is now. As a middle class American, he cannot afford to pay for the treatments his wife needs but has to try anyway, and the changes that consequently occur in his life from such cause him to question his original beliefs. Overall, Mercy Killers is a well done, thought provoking performance.
-Ali Correll, '17