Skip to main content

This May Hurt A Bit

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
It's a strange sensation, hearing an actor open Max Stafford-Clark's 
production of Stella Feehily's impassioned call to arms to save the NHS 
with Socialist firebrand Aneurin Bevan's speech that launched this most 
treasured of institutions in 1948. A politician with ideals and 
integrity is such a rarity these days that it can't help but sound 
heroic. This is the case too watching a piece of political agit-prop, a 
form which not that long ago was considered to be passe, but which now 
appears to have been reborn for the age of austerity with a vigorous 
sense of righteous urgency.

This is with good cause, as Feelihy proves in the play's central tale 
of one family's travails after their 90 year old mother Iris has a 
stroke. A sadly familiar story of over-crowded and understaffed 
hospital wards is punctuated by a series of sketch-like interludes, as 
Bevan and Winston Churchill step out of the audience to form a double 
act, and a weather girl points out exactly where all the health cuts 
have been made. Even Death himself makes a cameo.

Drawn from extensive interviews with hospital patients and staff as 
well as first-hand experience, Feelihy, Stafford-Clark and an 
eight-strong cast led by Stephanie Cole as Iris have produced a damning 
indictment of a government that puts corporate interests before saving 
lives that is both funny and full of bemused rage. When one character 
steps out to ask the audience “Why aren't people angry?”, the silence 
may be deafening, but the way Westminster's current occupants are 
going, it won't be that way for long.

The Herald, April 10th 2014

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …