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The Mercy Seat: A Play


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The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute presents the brutal realities of the war between the sexes, and explores whether one can be truly opportunistic in a time of universal selflessness.

About the Author

Neil LaBute was born in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan. He is the writer/director of the films In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, and author of the stage-plays Bash, The Shape of Things (which he also adapted for the screen) and, most recently, The Mercy Seat. He has also directed the feature films Nurse Betty and Possession, the latter adapted from the novel by A. S. Byatt.


"There is no playwright on the planet these days who is writing better than Neil LaBute . . . The Mercy Seat is . . . the work of a master." --John Lahr
, The New Yorker "An intelligent and thought-provoking drama that casts a less-than-glowing light on man's dark side in the face of disaster . . . The play's energy lies in LaBute's trademark scathing dialogue." --Robert Dominguez, Daily News "Though set in the cold, gray light of morning in a downtown loft with inescapable views of the vacuum left by the twin towers, The Mercy Seat really occurs in one of those feverish nights of the soul in which men and women lock in vicious sexual combat, as in Strindberg's Dance of Death and Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" --Ben Brantley, The New York Times "[A] powerful drama . . . LaBute shows a true master's hand in gliding us amid the shoals and reefs of a mined relationship." --Donald Lyons, New York Post "Uncomfortable yet fascinating . . . The Mercy Seat makes for provocative theater" --sharp, compelling and more than a little chilling." "LaBute's intriguing . . . new play . . . is most compelling when it is daring to look into [a] character's heart to explore the way self-interest, given the opportunity, can swamp all our nobler instincts." --Charles Isherwood, Variety "In The Mercy Seat . . . LaBute has given us his most compelling portrait of male inner turmoil." --Brendan Lemon, Financial Times "LaBute [is] the dark shining star of stage and film morality." --Linda Winer, Newsday "Sharply funny and incisive Seat is not a response to September 11, but a response to the response to September 11--an emotionally jarring consideration of the self-serving exploitation of tragedy for personal gain . . . Perhaps it's time we stop thinking of LaBute as a mere provocateur, a label that condescends to an artist of grand ambition and a nimble facility with language. With this gripping . . . new drama, he probes deeper than he ever has before." --Jason Zinoman, TimeOut New York "A nihilistic yet brutally honest work . . . As complex and unfathomable as human motivations . . . The Mercy Seat is haunting." --David A. Rosenberg, Backstage "LaBute risks offending contemporary sensibilities by using a historic tragedy as his turning point for a drama regarding a morally empty American . . . [The Mercy Seat is] controversial and compelling." --Michael Sommers, The Star-Ledger "LaBute . . . is holding up a pitiless mirror to ourselves. We may not like what we see, but we can't deny that--if only in some dark corner of our soul--it is there." --Jacques le Sourd, The Journal News

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