Do No Harm

While Jack Kevorkian is hauled into court again for helping a terminally ill patient commit suicide, and Oregon continues to debate an assisted suicide measure that has already seen two elections, a broad support base, and a handful of appeals, the Magic Theater undertakes its own inquiry into euthanasia by wrapping up its 30th-anniversary season with playwright David Rabe's drama A Question of Mercy, which explores the existential angst that tends to accompany matters of life and death. Based on Dr. Richard Selzer's essay of the same title, published in the New York Times Magazine in 1991 and reprinted in the doctor's memoir Down From Troy: A Doctor Comes of Age, Mercy revolves around Thomas (Francis Jue), who seeks out a retired doctor, Chapman (California Shakespeare alum L. Peter Callender) on behalf of his lover, Anthony (Rudy Guerrero), who has full-blown AIDS and wants to make sure his suicide attempt is successful. The couple's friend Susanah (Valerie de Jose) joins the trio in debating such ethical questions as whether people have the right to plan their own deaths, whether -- and how -- friends, family, and the law should get involved, and how much control the dying person has at the moment of truth. Benny Sato Ambush directs the show, which previews Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through June 28) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $15-26; call 441-3687. (H.W.)

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