Health Under Fire

If you are a fan of comedy, film noir, or just free shows in general, you should probably check out Health Under Fire. A play very much in the same vein as The 39 Steps, Health Under Fire is some of the best fun you can have at the Free Fringe this year, rivalling the quality of many shows that require you to shell out five pounds or more.

Health Under Fire may not be the biggest show of the fringe, but what it lacks in advertising revenue, it makes up for in sheer charm.

Set in a NHS hospital in the 1950s, the play revolves around the investigations of Arnold Grace, as he digs deeper into the murky background of the Royal Infirmary in Manchester. As the missing drugs pile up, Grace must figure out who’s the crook, lest the newly found National Health Service be put at risk. Full-on evil cleaners, dubious conjoined twins, and suspicious American femme fatales – what more could you possibly ask for? With a fresh take on an old story – a broken man trying to root out the corruption at the heart of our society – Health Under Fire is genuinely entertaining throughout.

That said, the play does occasionally have pacing issues, feeling slightly dragged out towards its end. Scene changes tend to feel slightly elongated, as a result of actors needing to change costumes. Similarly, there are occasionally times where a number of successive jokes fail to hit. Despite this, the show should have its audience chuckling throughout most of the piece.

With strong performances all around, an interesting set, and a fantastic use of movement (specifically in slow motion scene between Arnold and a group of orderlies), Health Under Fire may not be the biggest show of the fringe, but what it lacks in advertising revenue, it makes up for in sheer charm. Wacky, offbeat, and with enough panache that it could make Bill Nighy feel uncool, it is well worth a peek. 

Reviews by Alexander Gillespie


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The Blurb

A noir spoof set in the 50s that is fast-paced, ridiculous and jam-packed with jokes. Think The Naked Gun meets The 39 Steps! A show you can watch two or three times and still discover new jokes! It's Manchester 1950, the NHS has only been active for two years. Arnold Grace has been sent to investigate the Royal Infirmary Hospital under allegations that pharmaceutical products are regularly going missing. As Grace digs deeper through the investigation he finds corruption, robbery, fraud and conjoined twins. The show is presented by Death By Pie, who specialise in theatrical comedy.