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This May Hurt A Bit

Published 19 May 2014

What’s it all about?

The NHS and its oncoming demise. This May Hurt A Bit is unashamedly one-sided in its view that the National Health Service as we know it is on the verge of disappearing forever through no fault of its own, but rather due to the dubious self-serving of politicians. Agree or not, the facts that are coughed out during an evening that is part tale of an elderly patient and her family, part lecture, part surreal trip are terrifying and eye-opening. And there’s no spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down.

Who’s in it?

Stephanie Cole proves herself a master of the dry one-liner as the elderly Iris, a pensioner whose mind is as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel before she takes a tumble and a turn that is heart-breaking for the audience – especially anyone who has watched similar happen to a parent or grandparent – to watch.

Natalie Klamar is pitch perfect as the frazzled foreign nurse desperate to care but beaten by bureaucracy and pulled in more directions than a lone Peppa Pig toy at a toddler’s tea party.

What should I watch out for?

The surreal moments that jolt you out of the narrative; a scrubbing in-inspired dance routine, a deceased prime minister, death moonlighting as a porter…

Who was in the press night crowd?

Fresh from his run on Broadway, and from bringing joy to many with his Twitter pictures co-starring Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen was in and chatting to a man more used to using magic than medicine, Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman.

In a nutshell?

A touching, shocking and surreal indictment of the health of the NHS. It will leave you searching for the defibrillator that might revive, to paraphrase Nye Bevan, “the most civilised institution in the world”.

What’s being said on Twitter?

‏@BillGrimsey A must see: This may hurt a bit at St James Theatre Victoria. Grieve for the NHS & see the reality of the creep to privatisation by Gvmt .

@RoseUnwin If you care about the NHS go and see This May Hurt a Bit at St James Theatre @Out_of_Joint

Will I like it?

There’s much to like about the production, from an ensemble cast spanning roles as diverse as death and Winston Churchill to Cole’s brilliant central performance. But its value is more important than liking it. It forces you to ask questions about one of Britain’s most treasured institutions and its current treatment. Even if you don‘t wholeheartedly buy into its arguments, it should force you to seek out their counters and defences. The NHS is too precious to let it quietly die while everyone is sleeping. This May Hurt A Bit might just be the alarm clock going off.


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