‘Whose life is it anyway?’ follows the story of ‘Ken Harrison’, a man who tries to exercise a choice over his own life or death after being completely paralysed from the head down. Harrison received these horrific injuries after being involved in a car accident 4 months before the story starts. He is now in constant care within the hospitals walls being treated and cared for by the medical profession. The play centres on Harrison’s determination to exercise a choice over his own life or death with the medical bureaucracy fiercely opposing. The play leads as he takes the medical staff to court to try and exercise this right officially.
This play is seemingly unsentimental in which Harrison responds to his plight with wit and clarity and argues his case with power and persuasion. As this play focuses on ones mans wish to die and the issue of euthanasia we as the audience would expect the play to be very emotional. With the storyline, Clark could have easily made this play the opposite of what it actually is, powerful and fast moving. As Harrison had been though such a terrible ordeal we would expect him to be full of self pity and self indulgence and therefore make the play emotional and miserable.
Ken is first seen in Act 1, the first impression he makes on the reader is one of a happy and untroubled man. ‘I used to dream of situations like this… lying on a bed being massaged by two beautiful women.’ This is the first of many comical references Ken makes throughout the play, this is a very strong tool that Clarke uses to avoid sentimentality in his play. It shows that Ken isn’t self indulgent but rather making the best out of his current situation. He is expressing how he feels in the form of humour. This is less emotional than saying what Ken really does feel inside. For example ‘I’m afraid I can’t offer you my hand. You’ll have to make do with my backside…’ Ken could otherwise just have said ‘I can’t give you my hand because I’m paralysed’ this would have made the audience feel great sympathy for ken which Clarke has purposely avoided throughout his play.
The use of humour that Ken uses varies, there is the sexual humour between him and the female nurses ‘Have me on the floor sister please. Have me on the floor.’ And then we see the black humour ‘We went midnight skateboarding…I was the skateboard’ all these types of humour avoid Ken from actually telling other people how he feels. Ken is a very proud man and has a strong desire to keep his ‘dignity’ in tack ‘… mine is to die quietly and with as much dignity as I can muster…’ Ken knows that someday is going to die but because of his own self indulgence he wants to be the one in control of his death. This shows the audience that Ken isn’t a weak character that just wants to be put out of his misery, on the contrary, he is a character that wants to fight for his dignity and his own personal choices, and this once again distracts the audience away from feeling any kind of sympathy for him and...