Blue collar ‘Joe’ grapples with his red state ideals when he realizes the measures he must take to care for his beloved wife. A surprisingly tender love story,  Mercy Killers is an unblinking look at health care in America.

“First-rate… Milligan is an engaging, canny actor with a gift for natural behavior and the tics of everyday speech. He vividly shows the deep reluctance of his characters to complain while also building steam around the pressures that drive them to snap. And boy do they snap.... We all know that politics is more important than theater, right? But the talk is frequently deeper and better in the theater, where you have to sit, listen and think for an hour or two. Check it out, and reckon with these haggard men before deciding what we ought to do next.”
— The Washington Post
Mercy Killers is a raw, topical piece that shows the collision of ideals and reality in a system where health and well-being go up against profits. It is a show that is very much of the zeitgeist.
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
Milligan’s high-octane performance is raw with grief, rage and incomprehension. The stark set—a chair, a bright light and a table—highlights Joe’s loneliness, inadequacy and abandonment. And by the end of the play, a for-profit health care system that is responsible for more than 60 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies is no longer just a matter of statistics. Its reality is felt like the blast of a furnace.
— Chris Hedges, Truthdig
The play Obamacare needs.
— The Daily Beast
All of the detailed charts and policy discussions in the world can’t have the same emotional impact of a well-told story. Playwright and performer Michael Milligan proves that thoroughly in his one-man show, Mercy Killers, now playing at Pillsbury House Theatre. Through blue-collar Joe, Milligan puts an all-too-human face on the American health-care crisis. More importantly, from a theatrical standpoint at least, Milligan crafts a fully realized character that comes to life in all of his complexity during the one-hour show.
— City Pages, Minneapolis
Milligan is both John Steinbeck and Tom Joad, for Mercy Killers is a veritable Grapes of Wrath of the 21st century for ordinary Americans who find themselves bankrupted by forces beyond their control.
— The Cracked Shamrock
Mercy Killers is a provocative and raw emotional account of the consequences of a medical catastrophe in a family : loss of insurance and home; divorcing a loved one to benefit from indigent care; loss of dignity and moral compass; and most importantly, loss of a precious life. This fictional account is in fact the daily reality in our cancer clinics: patients losing their insurance coverage for technicalities, losing their homes because of inability to pay for mortgages, considering divorcing spouses to be eligible for indigent care, doing anything possible to save their lives, and often dying from lack of ideal care when one already exists but is not affordable to many.
— Hagop Kantarjian, Annals of Oncology, Chairman, MD Anderson Cancer Center
A pre-Obamacare study from 2009 found that a large percentage of Americans are one serious illness away from financial ruin. This gripping hour-long monologue by writer-performer Michael Milligan details precisely how it might happen… Milligan is riveting, conveying a fascinating mix of decency, heartbreak, and impotent fury.
— Chicago Reader
Beautiful and Heartbreaking.
— Teresa Eyring, American Theater Magazine
There’s a marvelous and mysterious kind of alchemy at work in author and actor Michael Milligan’s mesmerizing, harrowing indictment of US healthcare. Not only is it theatre distilled to its most basic essentials- one ordinary individual telling his story, as if to an invisible interrogator, his only props a table and chair- but it’s unambiguously specific in its objectives to attack a system responsible for more than 60 percent of US personal bankruptcies…. It’s also fuelled by profound outrage, and yet all these elements are so skillfully and meticulously controlled, in both the writing and performance, so thoroughly transmuted in service of storytelling, drama, and characterization, that the effect is gripping first and foremost on a painfully human level, even as Milligan simultaneously delves beneath the foreground issues to the personal and national philosophies underlying the debate stateside….Despite flashes of righteous anger, too, among the myriad emotions at work in Milligan’s superbly nuanced portrayal, it’s perhaps most heartbreaking of all that Joe’s adherence to the traditional US credo of self-reliance leads him ultimately to blame himself.
— The Scotsman, Five Stars and Fringe First Award
Milligan does not so much play the role of Joe as he becomes Joe. This complete transformation changes our relationship to the action on stage in some extreme, intangible ways… the intensity of both the acting and the play’s themes packs a serious punch into a short amount of time. As the self-made man is confronted by a merciless sociocultural machine, the political message is strong and timely – but the human implications are what knock us off our feet.
— Aisle Say, Twin Cities
In Mercy Killers Michael Milligan tells profound truths about the inhuman US healthcare system. Weaving a gripping personal story into a powerful portrayal of working class suffering during the Great Recession, Milligan reveals the painful impacts of profit-driven health insurance.
— Michael Lighty, Public policy director, National Nurses United