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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of humanity...
...of course, with plenty of LaBute's sometimes heavy-handed misanthropy. I originally began reading LaBute's plays after seeing Bash, and while I'll say that that one is better (everyone should read it!), I'll say that Mercy Seat is second only to that play for honest-to-god squirm-in-your-seat disgust at humanity's...human-ness.

Here in America, the...
Published on August 7, 2005 by Touj

versus
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting character piece...
Labute masterminded "In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors," the absolutely brilliant, "The Shape of Things," now brings to the stage, "Mercy Seat". Set the day after September 11, "Mercy Seat" is the story of Ben Harcourt and Abby Prescott. Set in Abby's downtown apartment, the play explores their...
Published on March 28, 2003 by usesoapfightclub


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of humanity..., August 7, 2005
This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
...of course, with plenty of LaBute's sometimes heavy-handed misanthropy. I originally began reading LaBute's plays after seeing Bash, and while I'll say that that one is better (everyone should read it!), I'll say that Mercy Seat is second only to that play for honest-to-god squirm-in-your-seat disgust at humanity's...human-ness.

Here in America, the gimme-gimme capital of the world, it's easy to pretend you don't see the poor, the sick, and the war-ravaged (especially since they're across the ocean). Then on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 America got a huge wake-up call--we were the war-ravaged for once. The Mercy Seat, set on Wedensday, September 12th, is a multi-layered examination of just how deep our image of concern for fellow man really went in those troubled days. According to Neil LaBute, not very far.

LaBute's play is the story of Abby Prescott and Ben Harcourt, two self-absorbed New Yorkers--that is, they were a day ago, before "9-11". Did the tragedy that befell their coworkers, friends, and family change their attitude? Not at all. In fact, their selfishness is what saved their lives; if Ben hadn't been cheating on his wife, they would have actually been at work like he told his wife.

With brutal honesty and the kind of cruel, biting wit, LaBute shapes the morning of September 12th and asks the sort of questions many Americans pretend they don't think about: If something doesn't affect you personally, does it affect you? Are your loved ones really more important than yourself? If you could, would you erase everything for the chance to try again--do it "right"--no wife, kids, responsibility?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An hour-long argument, April 29, 2005
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This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
I'm fascinated by arguing and the dynamics of arguments. The part I liked best about Labute's "Your Friends and Neighbors" was the arguing between Ben Stiller and Catherine Keener. That argument only lasted for about five minutes, so the fact that Mercy Seat is an hour-long argument is treat for someone like me.

This play has only two characters, and it is extremely fascinating and extremely complex. Ben Harcourt is Labute's typical Aaron Eckhart character. But I think that Abby Prescott's character type is new for Labute. She's a very smart, and seemingly genuine and nice woman.

Labute says in the introduction that this is his first play solely about relationships. He does an excellent job. My only recommendation is to skip Labute's introduction to the play until you've read it through once. It's an extremely cool intro, but I feel that it gives away too much of the plot.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting character piece..., March 28, 2003
By 
"usesoapfightclub" (Fort Wayne, IN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Labute masterminded "In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors," the absolutely brilliant, "The Shape of Things," now brings to the stage, "Mercy Seat". Set the day after September 11, "Mercy Seat" is the story of Ben Harcourt and Abby Prescott. Set in Abby's downtown apartment, the play explores their relationship and selfishness in light of a national tragedy. The ending, as any play from Labute--comes as a surprise, sadly, the climax is somewhat of a let down. I'm not going to give away the ending and I'm well aware of what the relationship is there to show/represent, but I think my biggest problem with, "Mercy Seat" was that I didn't care about that characters, through out the majority of the play there fighting or nagging at each other. It got to the point where I would rather them shut up, than reveal anything to progress the story. I like the idea behind "Mercy Seat," the thought that two people could be a couple of blocks away from this disaster and be so caught up in themselves... I just don't think it was executed as well as it could have been. In the end, we just don't care--there are bigger and better things going on outside that window and Ben and Abby...well, it seems like they're just there. If you've never read Labute, pick up a copy of "Shape of Things," you will NOT regret it. If you've never seen Labute, go out and rent, "In the Company of Men". If you LOVE Labute, go ahead with "Mercy Seat," it's not bad, it's still witty and clever, and the dialouge is just incredible--back and forth, back and forth, he really owns this relationship, but it's just not his best. This is character piece...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nobody likes a loser, July 14, 2009
This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
I am not much a LaBute fan, having experienced enough of his taboo pressing formulas, be it on stage or the screen, but The Mercy Seat came into my possession (remember that 2002 classic?) and I thought I'd give it a try.

I do wonder what the ultimate message of The Mercy Seat is for me. I ask because I have not instinctually cared, and this falls into LaBute's general mood of sensationalism. He does succeed in creating a kind of gray area within the September 11th experience, that speaks to LaBute's creativity and penchant for the seedy underbelly of us all.

September 11th is a benchmark day for the world and everyone in it at the time who was paying attention has an emotional and experiential connection to the event that was. This "relationship" is where the meat of LaBute's story, as a two-character-drama unfolds with a lingering unease about what was and is permissible under the marquee of Freedom or Escape or The Easy Life or The End of Adulthood or The End of Responsibility or The Returning To Youth or The Distance From Truth, etc., etc.

Better than expected. His characters are generally repulsive, meaning they must have some redeemable qualities, right? Don't we all? Or is this a liberal paradigm fraught with cheese holes?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Affecting Sept. 11th tale, August 7, 2005
This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Leave it to Neil Labute to provide a view of September 11th that has little to do with waving flags and stalwart heroes. On the contrary, his tale deals with people too self-absorbed and cowardly to act in any way other than that which satisfies their own immediate desires. They realize they are in the middle of a national tragedy, and they want to be brave and selfless, but it's not in them. This is a situation that probably occured all over this country in the days following the attacks, but of course was never reported. Deception and adultery don't make good press in a time when we're all supposed to be united and courageous. LaBute shows us the truth, ugly though it is. A worthy read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great play, April 6, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer "theate3541" (Beverly Hills, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Labute has once again proved to be one of the great authors of the 20th/21st century. His style allows one to grab into characters, not only because of their actions, but because they are one of our own. These people remind of us us. Of ourselves. We see things we do not like, but must understand. The Mercy Seat is just the latest example of an amazing work, but one of the great American authors around today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Who's the Boss in this Relationship?, March 22, 2014
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This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Only the star power of Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber could have gotten this play produced. We have an interesting discussion of a relationship that society questions because the woman is in a superior position to the man. The struggle they face pales against the back drop of 9/11.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Just Bad, October 25, 2013
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This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Terrible play, consisting of whiney and predictable characters that goes no where. Occasionally they remind us of all the people that were killed in 9/11 as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars LaBute rocks!, October 20, 2013
By 
Robert T. "bookish" (Southern California, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
Terrific writing by one of America's top contemporary playwrites. Powerful play, full of wonderfully drawn characters. Read it and buy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great play, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: The Mercy Seat: A Play (Paperback)
I saw this with Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber. I forgot how great it was. Great addition to the 9/11 story. it left me with more questions than answers.
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The Mercy Seat: A Play
The Mercy Seat: A Play by Neil Labute (Paperback - February 21, 2003)
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