Open Access

Death Is Sacred: Being and Non-Being in Sarah Hall’s “Theatre 6”


The short story “Theatre 6” is one of three post-apocalyptic short stories included in Sarah Hall’s collection Madame Zero, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013. The story is inspired by the real-life case of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septic shock at Galway University Hospital in 2012 because of being denied an abortion on grounds of septic miscarriage. The text paints a dystopian vision of a not so far away future where the Hunter fetal care act legislatively places the life of unborn babies higher than the one of mothers. The protagonists are a genderless anaesthesiologist, Dr. Rosinski, and a nameless patient, brought to a London hospital in septic shock, following a denied abortion in spite of a miscarriage suffered several days before. The time of narration is uncertain; however, the story is generally taken to be placed in a future where present-day anti-abortion tendencies have taken over the British judicial system. The story discusses the being/non-being dichotomy from a variety of perspectives: life-death, morals-hypocrisy, religion-secularism, male-female, empathy-bureaucracy, truth-duplicity. The ultimate question the text raises is what or whose life is sacred in a world that has jettisoned all semblance of sanity?