25 March – 5 April 2014
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
Nicholas James seems to spending a lot of time at the hospital. With his prostrate problems and ageing mother’s stroke between them they see just what is happening to our National Treasure the NHS. And it is not a pretty sight. There are bodily fluids in places they really shouldn’t be. A deceased patient in the cubicle next door. Medical notes missing and confusion over where exactly has the gentleman waiting for a wheelchair gone? To top it off poor Iris found a small stool in the shower (not one of the three legged kind she points out). Having witnessed lots of the scenarios for myself I had mixed emotions even when laughing at certain scenes I also felt quite sad at the realisation that this is the truth of the matter.
This is the fourth co-production from Out Of Joint. Stella Feehily wrote This May Hurt A Bit after her husband Max Stafford-Clark, who directs this production suffered a stroke in 2006. Having experienced first-hand the state of affairs in our hospitals it makes for a compelling show.
Stephanie Cole (Coronation Street, Open All Hours, Waiting For God) plays Iris James is a strong believer in the NHS. Her husband had fought for it and she insists on using what it has on offer even though her rather snotty daughter Marial (Jane Wymark) and husband (William Hope) want to move her to a private hospital. The scenes on the ward are fantastic. Frances Ashman’s Bea, an old patient suffering from Alzheimer’s and Natalie Klammar as an over worked foreign nurse are outstanding.
Full of humour, yet also showing the effects the Re-Organisation of the NHS is having on patients in a serious way it really hit home with me.
Winston Churchill and Aneurin Bevan (The Health Minister) make an appearance giving an insight into the history of how the NHS was born in 1948. I hadn’t realised that Park Hospital (now Trafford General) was where it began. My youngest son was born there so I found quite poignant.
Each cast member play numerous roles, with the exception of Stephanie Cole, switching between each with ease. All are fantastic actors and I enjoyed all their performances.
The sets are good. Scene changes are quick with the whole cast switching props in a flash.
My mum and myself really enjoyed the show. I have already told my siblings who are nurses they have to book tickets and see it! Iris ends the show with the words “We mustn’t give up” and she is right!
Bolton Octagon is situated right in the centre of Bolton. There is a car park next door and the bus station is a stone’s throw away. I always enjoy my visits here it has a warm relaxed feel to it as it is a small theatre. Seating is as such that wherever your sat you feel as if you are part of the show you are seeing and make it a more intimate experience. Staff were friendly and helpful.
The show is 2 hours 5 minutes long including a 20 minute interval.
Tickets cost from £9 to £24.
For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01204 520661.
Octagon Theatre. Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB | Box Office 01204 520661