Among the experts and laypersons interviewed by actress Anna Deavere Smith for her one-woman production, Let Me Down Easy, was Dean Philip Pizzo, MD. In the play, which is at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica through Sunday, Smith plays Pizzo as one of the “characters” in the show.
In a review of the opening night performance, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty writes:
The words that resonated most for me at Friday’s opening-night performance at the Broad belonged to Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine. Smith, looking dour in a doctor’s coat and adopting a cautionary tone to her oratory, voices Pizzo’s fears that “we are slipping into a healthcare system” that increasingly resembles “that of a developing nation,” one in which the haves and have-nots are divided by their access to adequate doctors and hospitals.
But what troubles Pizzo the most is our denial of death. How can we make decisions about the “rationing and regulation” of healthcare, which all parties know must take place no matter what they tell their constituencies, if we’re reluctant to acknowledge the limits of medical science? In other words, before we can have a grown-up conversation about healthcare costs, which are snowballing exponentially for end-of-life care, we have to accept some hard facts about mortality.