The play consists of a "confession." Joe is an ordinary, patriotic, hard-working guy who loves his wife and listens to a little Limbaugh (much to her chagrin). He tells his audience--a police officer (and us)--how he met the love of his life and how their lives unraveled when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Milligan deftly weaves every possible travail into Joe's tale, from a predatory mortgage lender to his wife's focus on organic foods to the shame and guilt of divorcing his beloved so that she could get Medicaid. It is a heartbreaking plunge into the despair of all those who face their own painful mortality knowing that it will cost their loved ones everything they ever had or could have.
After the performance, a panel of "experts" convened onstage to discuss the issues raised in the play. Joining Milligan onstage were a hospital executive, a health insurance executive, a physician and single payer advocate, and an academic from the field of public health. The glib commentary from some panel members underscored quite effectively why the health care crisis persists.
My only quibble with the play is one that would probably not occur to most people. As a fervent "Kumbaya" Catholic, I must accept that mercy killing of humans is not an option. Catholic belief is that, unlike animals, humans have souls, and our earthly suffering until natural death is considered "redemptive" and thus lets you move to the head of the line into heaven, so to speak.
Also, mercy killing is still illegal in most states, so it seems selfish and unfair to ask a spouse to commit a felony for one's own comfort. A man walking in Joe's boots has suffered enough. It seems wrong for someone who claims to love him to demand even more.