History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Early German 21st

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In the early 21st century, social drama in Switzerland is given strong impetus by Jakob Bärfuss (?-?) with "Alices reise in die Schweiz" (Alice's voyage in Switzerland, 2007) concerning the limits of euthanasia.

Alice's voyage in Switzerland[edit]

Time: 2000s. Place: Hamburg, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland.

In an apartment in Germany, Dr Gustav Strom, an euthanasialogist, explains to Alice the procedure involved in preparing for assisted suicide. She must travel to Switzerland, where the procedure is legal, though with many constraints on the unpaid practitioner. He advises Alice to tell her mother, Lotte, of her intention. Thinking that Lotte might try to prevent her suicide, she is hesitant to do so, but at last agrees to. At first Lotte does not believe her, then tries to make her change her mind, but without success. Hearing of Gustav's practice and believing in its humanitarian purpose in alleviating needless sufferings, Eva asks Gustav for a position as his assistant, which he accepts, specifying details on how she must look in front of the client. "No makeup, no perfume," he orders. "You are young: that alone may be a provocation." A second client, John, an Englishman, is about to be injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital when he asks for a glass of whiskey. It makes him drunk, reminding him that his mother believed one spent eternity in the state one died in, so that he calls off their agreement, though promising to return. Since her daughter has already tried to kill herself in the past, Gustav tries to obtain from Lotte her consent to his services, but she resists. Subject to a chronic disease whose symptoms have worsened, John returns with a crutch, but is nevertheless unable to submit to the injection, though once more promising to return. Because of his exaggerated commitment to assisted death, Gustav is eradicated from the Order of Physicians. As a result, he is unable to prescribe pentobarbital, but must give John flunitrazepam, a minor tranquillizer, combined with covering of the head with a plastic bag. Though previously he had approved of the doctor's humanitarian purposes, the owner of his apartment changes his mind. Because of his persistence, Gustav is arrested and interviewed by a psychiatrist, but then released. John returns yet another time, but, despite being an estimated two weeks from death as a result of his disease, he is unable once again to submit to the procedure. After leaving her mother in a numbed state, Alice returns to the doctor in a shabby apartment, drinks the transquillizer, but, contrary to their agreement, asks the doctor to place the bag over her head instead of herself. For legal reasons, Gustav insists she does so herself. Alice obeys and dies.