With the election and the possible demise of the National Health Service just around the corner, Pretty Villain Productions could not have picked a better time to showcase Joe Penhall's satire of a crumbling and dysfunctional psychiatric hospital. As well as diving into the often avoided depths of mental health, the play dissects race and the impact of NHS pressures.
a thought-provoking performance and, despite the heavy content, this polished piece will leave you feeling anything but blue
The cast must be congratulated for tackling these weighty subjects with drive and a sense of believability that left the audience feeling rather uncomfortable. This was accentuated by director Lucy Laing's decision to place the action in the centre of the audience, allowing us to truly feel like a fly on the wall privy to hushed conversations and emotional breakdowns.
The play takes place in a clinic room as we watch two doctors with clashing opinions and motives battle over the patient, Chris, and his eligibility for discharge after being sectioned. At first, I was a little underwhelmed with Winston Davis's performance as Chris - his interpretation of a person with mental health issues as childlike, and avoiding eye contact, felt rather predictable. However, Davis was just teasing us, slowly revealing Chris who develops into a memorable, multi-dimensional character.
John Black and Abi McLoughlin depict a torturous power struggle between the frontline junior doctor and the rather elusive senior consultant, who appears to be more focused on saving cost than saving lives. Watching Black's portrayal of an extremely stressed, over-worked doctor who slowly unravels throughout the performance was a delight, especially when contrasted with McLoughlin's cold, sarcastic delivery.
The momentum initially felt a little lost after the interval, however this was quickly forgotten due to the impressive character development and dynamic chemistry of our three actors. This was a thought-provoking performance and, despite the heavy content, this polished piece will leave you feeling anything but blue.