The NHS: you just don’t know whether to laugh or cry. St George’s Medics Review appreciate this in their satirical sketch show surrounding our great (and deeply deficient) health service, exploring the ridiculous and sometimes worrying nature of hospital life from an inside perspective. A topical and relatively untapped source of comedy, A Midwife Crisis pokes fun at a world that is far too often all doom and gloom.
Many of the sketches were very clever indeed and despite the common theme, they each had their own distinct character. Master Surgeon was a definite highlight, a game-show format that had surgeons pitted against each other to display creativity, efficiency and presentation; amusingly, one former fashion designer had a penchant for Velcro; while her competition found it difficult to get out of his abattoir habits. A joke about the automated answering service on 999 calls was also darkly funny and all too believable.
However, the script often fell short of the idea and the performances were largely amateurish. Yes, they are amateurs – they’re all busy becoming doctors after all – but other student productions manage to convince us of their professionalism, and I expected more of A Midwife Crisis. The comic timing was often OK but not great and many of them just lacked that twinkling eye that you find in the truly great sketch shows.
The sketches also widely varied in quality and occasionally they fell off the NHS-grid entirely. While a baffling and surprisingly vigorous dance routine in spray-on lycra was funny in an ‘oh that’s random’ sort of way, everyone looked genuinely confused as the lights went out. In addition, a skit imagining Hitler and his buddy Hans in Argentina was offset by their unexplained medical scrubs.
Having said that, A Midwife Crisis offered a novel and witty take on medical life and had us engaged throughout. However, while the NHS is clearly ransacked with problems, I also hoped for a celebration of the beautiful thing that is free health care; deep down they must believe in it! Weird and wonderful characters, the fabric of our British hospitals, were chucked out in preference for a few wank jokes too many and I often wished the sketches would be more developed. A Midwife Crisis is a bit of a mixed bag, but in the end it showed a lot of promise.