PreScribed (A Life Written for Me)

Prescribed (A Life Written For Me) by performance artist Viv Gordon opens a window for us to peer into the claustrophobically grim life of a GP working at an NHS practice today. The stage is cluttered with poles balancing plates of jelly, a metaphor for the current state of the NHS, and representing the patients. In the midst of all the wobbling plates of jelly in all shapes and sizes is the floundering GP, desperately trying to get through the day, boxed in by a broken system. Created from the research from Ruth Riley and Johanna Spiers at the University of Bristol, Prescribed (A Life Written For Me) raises awareness for mental health in this profession, Viv Gordon exposes the alarming suicide rates in men and women working as GP’s.

Her playfulness with the audience in moments was particularly heartwarming.

We follow Viv Gordon from her infancy playing doctor, growing up into a young girl who is desperate for the approval of her parents, into the teenager who studies through the endless revising and exams to study medicine at university. It takes years of education, exams, and practice to become a GP, and we are presented with the fact that these are the people who help everyone else, but whose mental and emotional stability is neglected by current society and government.

Assisted by dancer Mandy Braden, the chaos of working in a practice is made apparent through slick movement sequences and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Waltz 2. Braden’s command of the stage was so powerful and contributed to so many gentle moments of tension, it was a shame she was not on the stage more. However, these really were only small moments, and the duration of the piece was either passing objects or overloading Gordon with paperwork, I felt confused about her significance in the show. The audience felt the enjoyment Gordon felt onstage, even though she was depicting an overwhelmed and stressed individual, and her playfulness with the audience in moments was particularly heartwarming. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

PreScribed (a Life Written for Me) examines the mental impact of being a GP whilst the NHS melts down. An emotive show from performance artist Viv Gordon, using dance, verbatim text from GPs on the brink, jelly and tennis balls. Gordon takes us on a trip to the doctor that reveals an underbelly fraught with burnout, caffeine and an overdose of Beethoven. Made with original research undertaken at the University of Bristol, looking into improving understanding and access to support for GPs living with mental illness.