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Play portraying disabled family sparks controversy

18th March 2015

A play called Kill Me Now which recently debuted at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park has caused controversy following the portrayal of a disabled family. Telling the story of parents with a disabled son, the play explores the daily lives and obstacles that the family experiences, which ends with the father taking his own life.

In an article written by Dea Birkett, who is the mother of a disabled child, describes how she hoped the play would reflect her experiences, but was instead left disappointed. She felt that many of the scenes were unrepresentative of how it was really like to live with a disabled child, which was in fact relatively similar to the lives of most other children.

One particular criticism was that it ignored the independence that a lot of disabled people actually have, particularly in a scene where the parents struggle to bathe their son, with Birkett asking “Why doesn’t he simply take a shower, like any wheelchair user would?” Quite rightly, walk in baths and showers enable wheelchair users to bathe independently. She also questions why the play feels the need to show the disabled characters using the toilet, when the characters with no disabilities are not seen to do so.

Kill Me Now has divided opinions about the representation of disabled people

However, in contrast, the play has also received rave reviews from publications such as the Evening Standard, who rated the performance four stars. Brad Fraser, the screenwriter, wrote an article in response to Dea Birkett, stating that “drama needs conflict, and that there aren’t a lot of successful plays about families who live conflict-free and carry on cheerfully despite difficulties”.

He is thought to have drawn his inspiration for the play from a disabled nephew, although Birkett argues that there is “no genuine disabled voice” as none of the cast or crew have disabilities themselves.

Read Birkett’s article which is published on the Guardian here.

Image Credit: rosmary (

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.