Guinea Pigs on Trial

The latest offering from the award winning Sh!t Theatre is an all singing, all dancing critique of the pharmaceutical industry which is at all points informative and entertaining.

The show is mercifully un-evangelical.

The show takes the form of a guided tour through Louise Mothersole and Becca Biscuit's attempts to be accepted onto a Stage One Medical Trial as research for this show. Interspersed with updates on their quest are informative tidbits, songs, sketches, and even some pretty surrealist dance routines.

Mothersole and Biscuit showcase their impressive range of talents well. Their beautifully executed close harmonies would be worth listening to on their own and are combined with very witty lyrics. The humour is always present and always welcoming. Some of the strongest moments of the show are when we’re invited to share the disappointments the duo faced. Biscuit's attempt to put on half a stone in three days in order to meet the clinical trials weight restriction, for example, is accompanied by cute pictures of her desperately eating ice cream.

The show is mercifully un-evangelical. Information about corruption in the pharmaceutical industry is fed to us in small chunks and woven into the story as the protagonists discover it. Naturally, most of the information illustrates the corrupt behaviour of these corporations, but the duo is as even handed as they can be, noting that a third of medical trials get cancelled for lack of human participants, which causes further problems. As a result, the show doesn't really form an argument. Indeed, Mothersole and Biscuit are quite open about the fact that they don't have any answers. What Guinea Pigs on Trial does do is present us with information that makes us aware of the corruption without trying to force us into a particular point of view.

The show packs an awful lot into an hour, and although this makes for great entertainment, it means the information content is fairly low. We’re given snippets, such as the fact that new drugs only have to be tested against a placebo, rather than against an existing drug on the market, but nothing really comprehensive. Still, the show provides a very good introduction to the issues it addresses, and is likely to inspire a lot of people to go seek more information.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

Sh!t Theatre have decent bodies. They are trying to sell them. Pharmaceutical trials such as Flu Camp are being marketed to job seekers and students as a way of making money, essentially turning poor people into guinea pigs. Delving into the murky ethics of Big Pharma, broke Sh!t Theatre ask: is guinea-pigging a good cure for an empty bank account? And what happens when profit takes priority in the creation of medicine? Using song, satire, spoken word and movement, Sh!t Theatre follow up their multi-award-winning show Job Seekers Anonymous 2013.