In an effort to get medical help for Alabama tenant farmers, their nurse, Miss Evers, convinces them to join a government study to treat venereal disease. When the money runs out, Nurse Evers is faced with a difficult decision: to tell the men that they are no longer being treated and that they are now part of a research study to see what untreated syphilis will do to them, or follow the lead of the doctor she respects and the tenets of the nursing profession. Nurse Evers follows the advice of her advisors, and with the understanding that the study can help thousands more, she does not tell the men they are no longer receiving medication. She does this with the assurance that as soon as medication becomes available, her men will be the first to receive it. But after fourteen years of caring for her patients as if they were family, when medication is finally available, it is denied to her study group. Nurse Evers, devastated at the news and starting to watch her men die, can no longer keep silent. Shunned for her silence of fourteen years, Nurse Evers holds her head up and explains the reasons and emotions that kept her in the study and kept her caring for her men. Some of them forgive her, others do not, as Nurse Evers tries to put back a world broken by prejudice, disease, time and trust.
This powerful drama is a fictional account based on a true government study carried out from 1932 to 1972. "…artistically conceived, fully realized, deeply felt, often humorous and moving…the talk is always warm and persuasive, it benefits from a strong infrastructure of physicality, an undercurrent of action frequently bursting to the surface." —NY Magazine. "There is a deeply moving play being performed…that every American—and I do mean every American—should witness…Not only is this play loaded with messages for all of us who claim to be civilized, for sheer drama and entertainment it's worth more than the cost of the tickets." —Chicago Sun Times. "You could make an argument that the single most important feature of the play is its very existence; that simply by being, by having been written and produced, the play accomplishes its purpose. It is also one helluva piece of writing. The play is a powerful moral statement; it could hardly have been otherwise. But it is warm, humane and even, astoundingly, funny along the way, and it is never preachy." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution.