CONTENT TRANSPARENCY DETAILED SUMMARY:
This play contains dialogue that includes language about cancer, suicide, murder, illegal procurement of substances online, and a graphic depiction of consensual sex. We recognize that sensitivity on these topics vary from person to person. The characters and events that take place are purely fictional. If you have any questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects that might impact patron comfort, you may contact our box office or read below for a list of scenes that contain references to those topics. (CONTAINS SPOILERS.)
CONTENT TRANSPARENCY SCENE BY SCENE:
*PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS SPOILERS.*
Scene 1: Bella Lee Baird, a 53-year-old middle-aged woman, is reflecting on life and shares tragic memories of her parents: her father dead at 62 of a fatal heart attack and her mother dead at age 54 of stomach cancer due to neurofibromatosis. Bella confirms that she herself is dying from Stage Two cancer.
Scene 2A: Christopher arrives at Bella’s office. The two discuss famous writers, and the fate Christopher thinks all writers are destined to fulfill if they are to, in his words, “have their work matter” – suicide.
Scene 2B: Bella and Christopher discuss the plot of his novel. In his story, the main character, a “a Yale freshman from Vermont,” meets another young man, Shane, a “white boy from the projects.” They both travel together to New York City. As they travel, the two men become friendly. Bella is intrigued. “Is Shane going to take advantage of the student?” she asks.
Scene 2C: Two days later Christopher goes again to Bella’s office. He continues his story about the two young men and their trip into NYC – their trip to East Village, a walk together, the sharing of a meal, and checking into a hotel. “At this point it feels as if the story is writing me,” says Christopher. Bella invites him out to dinner; her treat.
Scene 2D: Bella and Christopher share dinner. They discuss his family and homelife. We learn his mother is also a writer, like Bella. He has no relationship with his father. They talk about friends (or lack thereof) and past relationships.
Scene 3A: One week later. Bella approaches Christopher in class. He seems distant and his attention is elsewhere. Bella asks if she has done something wrong. “You did nothing,” he says.
Scene 3B: Bella goes to a pub near campus, where she meets a man. They leave together and go to a motel where they engage in consensual sex. His language is explicit and gruff, and his actions mechanical, described by Bella as, “a kind of herky-jerky trundling method of intercourse that seems to involve indecipherable grunting.” She reveals to the audience that during the interaction she thinks about Christopher.
Scene 3C: One week later. Bella collapses in her living room and goes to the hospital. While there, she receives a card and handwritten message from Christopher. He tells her she is missed in class.
Scene 4A: Bella meets with her oncologist and the prognosis is not good. The tumors are rampant. Prospects are grim. She begins chemotherapy and describes her initial appointment, “as if I’m accepting some sort of ergonomic, living-room-quality death sentence.” She gets up and leaves.
Scene 4B: Bella returns to class after the November break. Christopher welcomes her back and they engage in light conversation. They agree to have dinner together that weekend.
Scene 4C: Bella informs the audience of her plan to commit suicide and how surprisingly easy it is to search for resources on the internet. There are countless websites. Numerous message boards. She is looking for something “painless,” and decides on lethal injection. However, it can only be accomplished with the assistance of a companion.
Scene 5A: In Bella’s apartment. Christopher comes to visit. They eat Chinese food together. She explains the severity of her cancer and asks him to help her commit suicide. Christopher is reluctant, but ultimately agrees; his only stipulation is that they first read his manuscript together.
In the story, the boy Shane confesses to having difficulties with his girlfriend and mother of his child. The other young man, who we now learn is also named ‘Christopher,’ murders Shane in a gruesome manner. He returns to New Haven and begins dating the deceased boy’s girlfriend and helping to raise their infant son. The novel concludes with him simply leaving the house one evening and going out in the cold.
The night ends with Bella walking through the injection process and trusting Christopher to help her complete the task.