March is National Kidney Month, which makes the docudrama "Who Lives?" only appropriate. Christopher Meeks' fact-based play about an anonymous citizens committee charged with deciding dialysis candidates receives an agreeable staging at Pico Playhouse.
Presented by the Renal Support Network, "Who Lives?" transpires in 1963 Seattle, as the silhouetted skyline along designer Will Pellegrini's set indicates. A classical violinist (Richard Adkins) eventually proves pivotal to a plot that follows attorney Gabriel Hornstein (Matt Gottlieb). After an opening scene of discord with wife Margaret (Monica Himmel), Gabriel's physical symptoms land him in the hospital. Despite the reluctance of resident Dr. Shuster (Matt Crabtree), hard-nosed Gabriel demands and gets the truth: end-stage renal disease, almost certainly terminal.
When the panel rejects his application, Gabriel tricks his way into facing the people he deems responsible for his death verdict. His legal-eagle badgering ends up putting both patient and doctor on the committee. Thus, against the Hornsteins' domestic unease and the ethical, social and spiritual quandaries raised behind closed doors, a morality tale unfolds.
It's handsomely appointed, with Catherine Glover's period costumes, Jeffrey Porter's sound and Jeremy Pivnick's lights giving the monochromatic decor depth of field. Under Joe Ochman's direction, so does the cast, starting with Gottlieb, whose middle-period Alan Arkin quality keeps us from hating his spiky character.
Causes Christopher Meeks Supports
Associated Writing Programs