Last week a Norwich Eye reviewer went along to hear about the experience of a graduate ward clerk in a hospital.
The audience were packed tightly into the Norwich Arts Centre, reminiscent of an overcrowded waiting room.
A solitary desk in the centre of them stage sets the context for “at work”, with other parts of the stage representing other places and the passage of time.
Using a series of anecdotes, Shey Hargreaves who created the show tells of one receptionist’s journey through four years of austerity; the impact on the NHS as an organisation, and on those who run the service on a day-to-day basis.
But there’s more. Throughout the show there a number of people that are never seen on stage, but are important reference points to keep the audience following the storyline. You’ll need your imagination with you to conjure mental images of these additional characters, be that the boyfriend, the consultant, or the little boy that is more savvy that he is given credit for.
Sick also includes a coming out story, and indicates some of the attitudes and comments that are encountered on a daily basis by members of the LGBT+ Community. Maybe worth remembering as a general point – your work colleagues will notice if someone from another department keeps popping in ‘to borrow your pen’ several times daily!
Although the script is laden with jokes, the impacts of austerity on the department and its staff are spoken of throughout the production. Queues in the waiting room. Beds designated for use by another department. But most importantly, the staff morale hits rock bottom; the enthusiastic consultant loses his spark, and the receptionist realises that her heart is no longer in the job following a period of leave. That is where the commentary ends.
The show is supported by Arts Council England and there was a Sign Language interpreter to make the production more accessible for those with additional needs.
©Gareth Douce 2017