Body language is a key part of an actor's craft, which is why Sun Wai-keung and Wang Wai have found performing in the drama Whose Life is it Anyway? such a challenge: they take turns playing a quadriplegic. On alternate nights, Sun and Wang play the part of Harrison, a talented sculptor who was injured in a car accident, and is now paralysed from the neck down. Despite what might sound like a depressing scenario, the three-hour Whose Life is it Anyway? is comic and crisp. Written by British playwright Brian Clark, and translated and restaged by the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, the play is thought-provoking and uplifting. The version by award-winning director Ho Wai-lung confronts the audience with a basic question: What is living? 'I used to think about what was missing in my life, and what was most important,' says Sun, who joined the company after graduating from the Hong Kong Academy of Arts in 1999. 'After going through the rehearsals, I realised the ability to move is the most important thing in life for me. 'Day after day, I tried to lie still in my bed for hours to get myself into Harrison's situation. Once, I wanted very much to urinate, but forced myself to stay in bed. 'Little by little, I began to understand that these people are living in a way that normal people cannot imagine.' Sun says the actors talked to medical workers to learn more about their character's situation. 'We chose not to talk to the patients because it's very hard for them to talk, even for a couple of minutes,' he says. Wang says that, according to the medical workers they spoke to, quadriplegics craved primary, physical contact. 'When the medical workers cleaned the patients' bodies, many of them - especially the male patients - cried,' he says. Sun and Wang play the same role in two different ways. 'In the hospital bed during rehearsals, the feeling of helplessness always overpowered me,' says Sun. 'I brooded over the pain of being such a patient. But Wang did something different: he played a disabled tough guy. So, I learned from the other Harrison.' The play starts with nurses giving Harrison his daily sponge bath, and continues as he interacts with a series of medical workers. They treat him, variously, with professionalism, pity, understanding and condescension. An intelligent man, Harrison outwits doctors, flirts with nurses and demands to be treated with all the choices and rights of a normal person. He doesn't want to die, but he doesn't just want to be watered and fed like a house plant, either. He hires a lawyer to fight for his right to control his own life, and to refuse treatment he doesn't want. 'The director told me to imagine that Harrison's mind is like a peaceful sea when he presents his case in front of the judge,' says Wang. 'How can a sea be peaceful? I thought for a long time and finally understood that, no matter how deep the pain was, the surface should be calm. 'These patients should have a choice about what to do with their lives, but I don't see euthanasia as a solution.' Whose Life is it Anyway is not a new play. It was written in 1978, and made into a film starring Richard Dreyfuss. Ho had a role in a production of the play some 24 years ago. 'I played one of the consultant psychiatrists when the play was staged by the HKRep in 1981,' he says. 'This is a very good play about an important issue. So, I suggested that it should be re-staged since the issues it raises are still being debated.' Christopher Reeve's accident and recent death helped bring the issue of patient dignity to the forefront. Meanwhile, political discussion in Hong Kong, including a critical look at the city's medical services, has encouraged people to think about their right to make choices that affect their lives. '[The play] isn't so much about medical issues,' says HKRep artistic director Fredric Mao. 'It's about a person's right to personal choice, and this is very important for Hong Kong, especially at a time when so many things are happening.' Whose Life is it Anyway? tonight until Jan 16, 7.45pm; matinees Jan 8, 15 and 16, 2.45pm, HK City Hall Theatre. $100, $150, $200 Urbtix. Cantonese with English surtitles.