Arts News

Play raises cancer awareness with humor

A funny play about cancer is a tough sell. However, A Slight Discomfort, a play by Salt Lake City playwright Jeff Metcalf, is more than just a humorous approach to his experience with cancer. The play is about human experiences with health and medicine, something everyone can relate to, Metcalf said.

The play is a one-man performance that follows the journey of the author as he is diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

“The play kept rearing its head in all the journals that I kept,” Metcalf said. “I started keeping a separate journal for (the cancer). And I realized in the cancer journal there was always laughter and light. It really surprised me. There was a lot of funny stuff.”

The play was first produced by Salt Lake Acting Company in 2008 and since then has received rave reviews at theaters across the nation.

The play will be making a one-night appearance at the IJ & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center on March 10. The event is free, thanks in part to the Jewish Community Center and the Holme Robert & Owen LLP law firm.

The community center officials felt this play would be an opportunity to raise awareness about prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer, said Michelle Oelsner, the community special events coordinator.

“The play is about awareness,” Oelsner said. “It’s not something people easily talk about.”

Men often have a difficult time speaking about feelings and other issues that might be affecting them, Metcalf said.

“The play gets men talking,” Metcalf said. “I can always tell which men have prostate cancer when they watch it. The play is humorous in the sense that we can see ourselves in there.”

However, the play is not just for men with prostate cancer, Metcalf said. The audience of the play is usually well-balanced with men and women.  And the play is about so much more than just cancer, he said. It speaks to the human condition and allows us to reflect on our relationship with health and medicine.

“The play is about life, laughter and love. It’s a play about, oh yeah, cancer,” Metcalf said. “Which is the smallest part of the play, as far as I’m, concerned.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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