For All I Care

For All I Care is, first and foremost, the story of two women. It is, however, also about the current state of the National Health Service and the promise made by its founders. First: Clara, shoplifting items requested by "the Devil" (aka local brute Diane) who sets herself on fire in a high street changing room. Second: mental health nurse Nyri, sleeping with a policeman half her age, and mourning the death of her mother.

Harris's script is sharp, characterful and full of lovely little details.

The nub of the story is when Clara becomes the patient to whom Nyri believes she has a duty of care, even though – sooner rather than later – the health authorities decide that Clara is a "low-risk" patient, meaning she is a possible threat to herself, but not the wider public. Nevertheless she is unfortunately taking up a bed in a "medium-risk" unit. An added complication comes when Diane gets involved with Nyri's uncommunicative teenage son, possibly providing him with drugs. However, this is essentially a subplot to the central story of two women trying to make sense of the world and their roles in it.

Alan Harris's script is sharp, characterful and full of lovely little details: Nyri remembering her dying mother, for example, her "breaths out longer than breaths in," before they finally stopped; the slightly-nauseating, just-following-procedures boss, constantly clicking his pen; Clara's lightly-given assertion that "I don’t believe in anything because I can't afford to". Director Jac Ifan Moore has come up with a simple device to indicate when characters other than Clara or Nyri are speaking: performer Hannah Daniel simply speaks into one of three microphones hanging down from the ceiling in an otherwise dark, near-empty stage.

There is, however, one all-too obvious problem with this minimal staging. It is true that performer Hannah Daniel succinctly distinguishes between Clara and Nyri using little more than a pair of sunglasses, accent, and subtle body posture—we never doubt who we're watching at any given moment. It's an excellent performance, but unfortunately marred by a lack of projection, especially in such a large performance space where noisy air-conditioning is a constant distraction. Long story short: Daniel needs to be miked up.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Clara and Nyri. Two very different women. Two complicated lives. Both having a very bad day. Mental health nurse Nyri's woken up hungover with a younger man. Meanwhile, Clara has developed a compulsive wink and can't remember if she's taken her meds. Nyri needs to get to Ebbw Vale Hospital via Greggs and Clara is dodging signs telling her – rather rudely – to kill herself, so she can get cracking with her shoplifting list for the Devil. Interweaving and unexpected connections collide in this fast-moving, touchingly funny one-woman show by Alan Harris.

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