The Mercy Seat

Neil LaBute
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Set on September 12, 2001, THE MERCY SEAT continues Neil LaBute’s unflinching fascination with the often-brutal realities of the war between the sexes. In a time of national tragedy, the world changes overnight. A man and a woman explore the choices now available to them in an existence different from the one they had lived just the day before. Can one be opportunistic in a time of universal selflessness?

Production Info

Cast: 2 total (1 female, 1 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tag:

Press Quotes

“There is no playwright on the planet these days who is writing better than Neil LaBute … THE MERCY SEAT is … the work of a master.” —John Lahr, The New Yorker

“An intelligent and thought-provoking drama that casts a less-than-glowing light on man’s dark side in the face of disaster … The play’s energy lies in LaBute’s trademark scathing dialogue.” —Robert Dominguez, Daily News

“Though set in the cold, gray light of morning in a downtown loft with inescapable views of the vacuum left by the twin towers, THE MERCY SEAT really occurs in one of those feverish nights of the soul in which men and women lock in vicious sexual combat, as in Strindberg’s DANCE OF DEATH and Edward Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“[A] powerful drama … LaBute shows a true master’s hand in gliding us amid the shoals and reefs of a mined relationship.” —Donald Lyons, New York Post

“Uncomfortable yet fascinating … THE MERCY SEAT makes for provocative theater — sharp, compelling and more than a little chilling.” —Michael Kuchwara, Newsday

“LaBute’s intriguing [new play] is most compelling when it is daring to look into [a] character’s heart to explore the way self-interest, given the opportunity, can swamp all our nobler instincts.” —Charles Isherwood, Variety

“In THE MERCY SEAT … LaBute has given us his most compelling portrait of male inner turmoil.” —Brendan Lemon, Financial Times

“LaBute [is] the dark shining star of stage and film morality.” —Linda Winer, Newsday

“Sharply funny and incisive SEAT is not a response to September 11, but a response to the response to September 11 — an emotionally jarring consideration of the self-serving exploitation of tragedy for personal gain … Perhaps it’s time we stop thinking of LaBute as a mere provocateur, a label that condescends to an artist of grand ambition and a nimble facility with language. With this gripping … new drama, he probes deeper than he ever has before.” —Jason Zinoman, Time Out New York

“A nihilistic yet brutally honest work … As complex and unfathomable as human motivations … THE MERCY SEAT is haunting.” —David A. Rosenberg, Backstage

“LaBute risks offending contemporary sensibilities by using a historic tragedy as his turning point for a drama regarding a morally empty American … [THE MERCY SEAT is] controversial and compelling.” —Michael Sommers, The Star-Ledger

“LaBute … is holding up a pitiless mirror to ourselves. We may not like what we see, but we can’t deny that — if only in some dark corner of our soul — it is there.” —Jacques le Sourd, The Journal News

About the Author


  • Neil LaBute

    Neil LaBute received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at the Royal Court Theatre, London. He also attended the Sundance Institute's Playwrights Lab and is the Playwright-in-Residence with MCC Theatre in New York City. LaBute's plays include: BASH: LATTER-DAY PLAYS, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, THE MERCY SEAT, THE DISTANCE FROM HERE, AUTOBAHN, FAT PIG (Olivier Award nominated for Best Comedy), SOME GIRL(S), THIS IS HOW IT GOES, WRECKS, FILTHY TALK FOR TROUBLED TIMES, IN A DARK DARK HOUSE, REASONS TO BE PRETTY (Tony Award nominated for Best Play) and THE BREAK OF NOON. In 2011 his play IN A FOREST, DARK AND DEEP premiered in London's West End. LaBute is also the author of Seconds of Pleasure, a collection of short fiction which was published by Grove Atlantic. His films include In the Company of Men (New York Critics' Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmaker Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival), Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession, The Shape of Things, a film adaptation of his play of the same title, The Wicker Man, Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 12/19/2016
Pages 70
ISBN 9780881456912

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by the Manhattan Class Company

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Mercy Seat is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


9/11/2019 – 9/22/2019
Go Fisch Productions Llc
Philadelphia, PA

10/1/2018 – 10/9/2018
Roxy Regional Theatre
Clarksville, TN


5/13/2023 – 5/26/2023
Chino Community Theatre
Chino, CA

6/1/2022 – 6/4/2022
University Of Southern Queensland - School Of Creative Arts
Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

6/11/2021 – 6/20/2021
Los Altos, CA

1/3/2020 – 1/12/2020
Outskirts Theatre
Waukesha, WI

9/20/2019 – 9/22/2019
Elgin Art Showcase
Elgin, IL

9/20/2019 – 9/28/2019
Fire Pit Productions
Alexandria, MN

2/17/2019 – 2/17/2019
Jubilee Directing Lab
Fairborn, OH

5/4/2018 – 5/20/2018
Asheville Community Theatre
Asheville, NC

4/13/2018 – 4/29/2018
Know Theatre
Binghamton, NY

3/30/2018 – 4/15/2018
Players' Ring
Portsmouth, NH

9/8/2016 – 9/11/2016
The Studio Theatre
Little Rock, AR

8/11/2016 – 8/28/2016
Thalian Association Community Theatre
Wilmington, NC

4/8/2016 – 4/24/2016
Las Cruces Community Theatre
Las Cruces, NM

3/5/2016 – 3/5/2016
New Threads Theatre Company
Riverside, CA