More than half of physicians in America struggle with
burnout according to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic.

Playwright Michael Milligan spent the last couple
years asking doctors around the country “why?”

In his new play, Side Effects, Milligan shares the answers
he received through the fictionalized account of one
doctor’s struggle.

No one ever told Dr. William Macqueen about the "side effects" of practicing medicine. As bureaucratic and financial pressures collide with his professional standards, William must reconcile the art and business of medicine.

“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. Milligan has done his research, having toured “Mercy Killers” around the country and now premiering “Side Effects”. The data is authoritative; each incident about a treatment or billing code rings true, winding these guys ever tighter until they blow. 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.”
— Washington Post
Michael Milligan delivers a deftly calibrated emotional performance. The play offers a multi-layered perspective of a physician in crisis, caught between a desire to serve his patients and the demands of the current health system.
— Johanna Rian, Mayo Clinic, Program director, Center for Humanities in Medicine
Magnificent performance… Milligan has captured the emotional and ethical dimensions of primary care practice in the United States.
— Oliver Fein, Physicians for a National Health Program
The changes in health care have effected all of us, including the providers. This play demonstrates this in a personal way. Excellent.
— Doreen McIntyre, Minnesota Nurses Association, Board of Directors
“Compelling, timely… it’s effective to see the results of all this pressure and a broken system on one man, which is why Milligan is effective in his play in getting across an argument that has the power to actually move someone out of their entrenched position on Capitol Hill. And that’s saying a lot. There’s grit and intent behind “Side Effects” that can’t be missed, and Milligan is doing great work bringing it to a place where it might even have an effect.”
— Broadway World.
“….a driving and nuanced solo production about the health care system. As Dr. William MacQueen, Michael Milligan delivers a passionate performance about the conflicted complexities, doctor-patient relationship, generational changes, economic considerations, and ethical responsibilities confronting doctors and the medical profession…. Michael Milligan has taken a substantial challenge. Writing from collected interviews with doctors from around the country, Milligan has spoken with physicians who normally don’t have time to talk, created a picture of these professionals as people and most successfully, has gotten to the heart of the matter.”
— DC Metro Theater Arts
5 Stars. Milligan does an impressive job of conveying a massive amount of fascinating information without it coming off like he’s reading a white paper. He covers a lot of ground in just over an hour—the stress of keeping a business running, the overwhelming amount of work that must be done just to keep his head above water and the opportunities that that creates to make mistakes, and—most effectively—the gulf between MacQueen’s desire to save lives and his love of the “art of medicine” and the bureaucratic nightmare that his days have become. Milligan makes his desperation and exhaustion almost palpable to the audience, laying bare the frustrations and Sisyphean nature of his life that have him contemplating diving head-first out of his fifth-floor office window. And it’s only made harder by the glimpses he gets of the way things could be—he has memories of his father treating patients in exchange for cartons of eggs and, more recently, a visit to France where the prices for medical services are listed on the wall and the doctors still make house calls. Instead, we have a system of our own choosing that values efficiency over empathy and taking the time to get to know patients on an individual level—as Dr. MacQueen quips, “Americans don’t mind a gulag, as long it’s privately run.” Side Effects shows a different side of the healthcare system that often gets ignored. Whereas television series like Grey’s Anatomy and ER focus on the big, dramatic events that test physicians, Milligan shows us how, in real life, it’s the small, daily struggles and mindless tasks that can wear the noblest of intentions down and create the kind of errors that have real consequences for patients and physicians alike.”
— DC Theater Scene