New play examines cryonics – science or quackery?

Diane Linder plays Rebecca Adler

Diane Linder plays Rebecca Adler.

My wife, Pat, and I went to Los Angeles last weekend to see Rebecca’s Gamble, a play based on the novel Long Life? by Phoenix attorney Robert Begam. Both the play and the book examine the scientific, ethical, religious and legal issues surrounding cryonics, the practice of freezing a body in the hope that it can someday be reanimated and brought back to life.

I’ve worked with Bob on marketing the book, and it was exciting to see the story brought to life on the stage. It’s a Phoenix-based courtroom drama in which Dr. Rebecca Adler, the medical director of cryonics institute Omega Terrace, agrees to suspend the life of her friend, Kent Eastman, who has contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. He asks her to do so in the belief that his body can avoid the worst stages of the disease and he can be brought back to enjoy a rich, full life.

Randy Vasquez is Joe Purcell.

Randy Vasquez is Joe Purcell.

Rebecca performs what she calls a premortem suspension. Maricopa County prosecutor Scott Novak has another name for it – murder. Defense attorney Joe Purcell wants nothing to do with the case, but he becomes intrigued when he realizes that he’ll be part of the first murder trial in which the jury has to decide only one issue: Is the victim dead?

Playwright Art Shulman has brought the book to life on the stage, and he has recruited a talented cast to play a wide variety of expert witnesses, including a preacher, a rabbi, a neurosurgeon, a physicist, and even an accountant.

Jerry Weil plays Scott Novak.

Jerry Weil plays Scott Novak.

The three principal characters – Adler, Purcell and Novak – are played by Diane Lindner, Randy Vasquez and Jerry Weil. They all have a long list of acting credits, and they and their fellow cast members do a great job of working through the sometimes complex issues and emotions surrounding cryonics.

You can buy the Kindle version of Long Life? for just $2.99. And if you live in the Los Angeles area, you have several opportunities to see the play between now and Sept. 1. Check out the calendar here.

What do you think: Will cryonics be possible someday, or is it just a pipe dream? Let me know.

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