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Comic or Graphic, Shows About Abortion Surface a Stark Divide

A publicist for “Oh Gosnell” said that the creation of the play was inspired by Leiby’s comic monologue. “They laugh about it — we tell the truth about it,” says the website of the play now going by the name “Oh Gosnell: A Show About the Truth.”

It’s written by Phelim McAleer, who is credited on IMDB as being a producer of the yet-to-be-released film “My Son Hunter,” starring Laurence Fox as Hunter Biden, and as a writer and a producer of “Obamagate,” starring Dean Cain, which The New York Post described as a play that had its premiere on YouTube. His other plays include “Ferguson,” about the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown.

Laughter and truth are not mutually exclusive, of course, even if McAleer, a right-wing provocateur whose program bio calls him “a veteran investigative journalist,” implies otherwise.

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As for conveying any general truth about abortion, rather than specific truths about the gruesome case of Kermit Gosnell — a Philadelphia physician convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder for killing three babies after botched late-term abortions — it doesn’t. Neither is it constructed to persuade.

The script for the play, simply titled “Gosnell,” says that it was “compiled, verbatim, from grand jury and criminal trial transcripts” in the Gosnell case. In a spare, somewhat murky staged reading directed by David Atkinson, it has a cast of seven that includes a compelling young actor named Kaché Attyana, who I hope will soon get better work.

“The first thing I want you to be assured of, ladies and gentlemen,” a prosecutor (Roxanne Bonifield) says, close to the top of the show, “is that this is not a case about abortion.”

For emphasis, she repeats that assertion. Maybe McAleer, the co-author of a book about the Gosnell case, and a producer and co-screenwriter of the 2018 movie “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” didn’t hear her?

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