Flowers for Algernon is a play by David Rogers based on the science fiction short story and novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story written in 1958 was inspired by events in Keye’s life and so were many of the characters including students he taught, Professors he met while studying and even Algernon, inspired by a dissection class. Published in the April 1959 “Flowers” won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960.
Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. Charlie Gordon, who we see at the beginning of the play with an IQ of 65, becomes the first human test experiment for the surgery. As Charlie’s intelligence increases to genius level he learns languages and publishes scientific papers. However, he also realizes there is a fatal flaw in the experiment and as he watches what happens to Algernon, he knows it is a race against time. The story touches on many ethical and moral dilemmas; the danger of “man” playing god; friendship as it is perceived and given; the role and definition of human intelligence; abandonment; bullying; our desire to please; love and our treatment of people and animals for “scientific” experiments.