Broadway Play Examines Issues of Illness

Drawing on her mother’s lifelong illness and her own childhood illness, playwrite Lisa Kron explores the blurred lines between wellness and illness in Well, which opened on Broadway in March.

“‘If you’re blessed with good health, you can say, ‘I did it.’ But if you lose your health, you know that external forces beyond your control can get in your way.'”

“Healthy people tend to act as if beneath every sick person is a healthy person trying to come out — that, as Ms. Kron put it in an interview, ‘people who are sick are just not trying hard enough.’ Those afflicted by serious depression are often told by others to ‘pull yourself together,’ ‘snap out of it,’ as if they deliberately choose to suffer.”

“In the play, Ann [Kron’s mother] herself says: ‘You blame yourself. Wasn’t it Susan Sontag who pointed out that whenever the cause of an illness is mysterious, it’s assumed to come from psychological problems or a moral weakness? And once science finally figures out the medical root of the illness, that assumption disappears.'”

“Will we one day have a better — that is, more scientific — understanding of ailments like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Gulf War syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities or any of the other current ‘wastebasket’ diagnoses that many medical and lay people consider psychosomatic?”

Visit Lisa Kron’s website for video and audio clips from the show. You can also read excerpts of the show on her site.