Views & Reviews Review

When the music died

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 27 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b774
  1. Khalid Ali, senior lecturer in geriatrics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  1. Khalid.ali{at}

    A play about a musician whose multiple sclerosis puts an end to her career makes a strong statement against physician assisted suicide, finds Khalid Ali

    When Tom Kempinski wrote his play Duet for One more than 25 years ago, few would have missed that its inspiration was the life of Jacqueline du Pré, the renowned cellist whose life was shortened by multiple sclerosis. Today, the play’s treatment of physician assisted suicide taps into the topical debate about a patient’s right to die with dignity.

    The two main characters are Stephanie Abrahams (played in the Almeida Theatre production by Juliet Stevenson), a famous concert violinist who becomes incapacitated by multiple sclerosis, and Dr Feldman (Henry Goodman), her psychiatrist. At the suggestion of her husband, a world famous composer, Stephanie visits Dr Feldman to share her thoughts and worries about the disease. At first Stephanie …

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