Check Up: Our NHS at 70, Mark Thomas’s latest show has you laughing, weeping and angry in equal measure during your 75 minutes in his waiting room, writes Michael Holland.
Mark Thomas does not just rant about the NHS from a personal perspective but gets in there and talks to the people at the very top as well as those on the frontline who fight life-saving battles everyday. It is their story being told here, and it is not the heart-warming tale we want to hear.
His rat-a-tat delivery gets the heart pumping as he recreates the emergency of an A&E department and the professionalism that works amid the chaos of the life and death situations that are part and parcel of our NHS. We are there in the operating theatre surrounded by machines and technology while the team supporting the surgeon are trying everything they can to keep their patient alive when – Nothing. Lights out. Life has gone.
But life goes on and on the same day two stab victims are kept alive and there is a successful kidney transplant that adds 20 fruitful years to someone’s life.
With just a chair, bedside curtains, a hand sanitiser and video projections, Thomas drags us through the hospitals he visits and makes us watch the people do the jobs that we don’t want to do: showing affection for dementia sufferers who have reverted to childlike behaviour; lovingly tending to patients with mental health issues; putting up with lifts that don’t work, while always keeping a smile on for the public.
Mark interviews those at the top who agree that our NHS is not given enough money to do the job it is expected to do, and grows to love the nurses and carers at the cliff face, perpetually facing an uphill struggle.
Eventually we stopped thinking about the NHS as a unique and wonderful British institution, but as an average, under-funded, runaway behemoth that could and should be doing much better – And would be if the Government gave it the money it needed to perform at its best. We came to realise even more what the nurses and doctors have to do on a daily basis; and I think every one of us in the audience made a mental note to march to save our NHS at the next rally.
Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is not an easy ride but it is one we all need to take. If change is gonna come it will come through us.
Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is on at The Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN until May 4th. 7.30pm. Admission: £12.50 – £18. Phone: 0207 223 2223