The play is written by David Rabe, who was inspired by an essay by Richard Selzer, M.D., of the same name, which was published in 1991 in The New York Times Magazine. Selzer's essay discussed a dilemma of a doctor who was who asked to assist in the suicide of a man in the latter stages of AIDS.
Director Brandon Demery said that while the main character, Anthony, has AIDS, the play is more about euthanasia and the ethics surrounding it.
"It's not an AIDS play in that it doesn't really deal with the history and the politics of AIDS and the characters in those play are fighting the establishment," Demery said. "I think Rabe could have chosen from a few terminal illnesses that Anthony could be dying from. It serves the play because it is such a devastating illness and a more recent disease."
"Basically it's a conversation about one's right to die, and the questions that come out of that conversation - not only from the patient and doctor but also the family and friends of everyone involved," Demery said. "It doesn't really answer any of those questions, but it certainly asks a lot."
Demery said that "A Question of Mercy" is a large production for the Second Stage, but a few performers have doubled up on parts to make the staging more manageable.
"It's crunch time right now," Demery said.
"The actors are really into telling this story. My job is to decide how to tell it."