facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

An Instinct For Kindness

First Published 12 April 2012, Last Updated 12 April 2012

While tragedies that are based on true events are probably the most moving, I can imagine that they’re also the most challenging for the performers who are entrusted to portray them. Surely nothing is more difficult, though, than acting out something deeply tragic that you have experienced in your own life.

Chris Larner is undoubtedly a brave man. Not only did he endure the emotional trauma of taking his ex-wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic to help her end her life, he is now willing to go through it again… almost every night… for three weeks.

This was a story that Larner believed had to be told and last night at Trafalgar Studio 2 he told it in front of a London audience. In a solo show that combines narration and performance, he revealed the difficulties, both emotionally and legally, surrounding assisted suicide.

Larner’s ex-wife Allyson, to whom he was still very close, suffered from multiple sclerosis and An Instinct For Kindness provides a graphic portrayal of the pain and suffering, the enemas and incontinence, caused by the neurological condition. Allyson didn’t want to die but nor did she want to live, not in this way. So after a long and hard fight, she made the decision to die, a decision that was all together more difficult to implement than you might imagine.

As if choosing to die wasn’t hard enough, Allyson and Chris needed enough legal documents and medical notes to clear the Amazon rainforest of trees, along with the help of individuals who were willing to keep a very big secret. Wracked with fear and anxiety that the authorities would stop them, the pair set off to the Swiss Alps, and only one of them would return.

Surprisingly, An Instinct For Kindness isn’t merely a depressing insight into Allyson’s situation. Just as you feel yourself reaching for the tissues, in a bizarre shift in mood you instead find yourself smiling, and sometimes even laughing, at Allyson’s admirable outlook on life and her debilitating illness.

While this story may deal with a contentious topic, Larner hopes to raise awareness and cause increased debate on the laws governing assisted suicide with the aim of changing the way in which cases like Allyson’s are treated in the future.


Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.