Edinburgh Guide  
Theatre in Edinburgh -- Scotland

An NHS Christmas

Writer: Daniel Winterstein
Director: Anna Zolotoff
Dates: Feb 28th & March
Venue: Bedlam Theatre 0131 225 9873

also reviewed by Maureen a play now ended
Writer: Steve Potts
Director: Sarah Cook
Dates:Run ended
Venue: Bedlam Theatre (details as above)
Reviewer: Maureen Sangster

There's real delight in hearing a new playwriting voice for the first time. Both Daniel Winterstein, An NHS Christmas and Steve Potts, Painkillers have talent. Both give us plays expressing dissatisfaction with the NHS. Both present us with characters in extremis. But bleak - as these two plays are - they are also enjoyable.

The strength of An NHS Christmas is its witty language and polemical vigour. Dark angry cynicism comes from Jeffrey, an elderly gentleman as he talks to Alex, the young man who's found himself in geriatrics because of lack of space. 'I could have afforded a luxury such as a living wife' is Jeffrey's comment on how if he'd been rich he could have bought a by-pass operation for his wife. But the play needs an ending, one recognisable to the audience!

The strength of Painkillers is the interaction between characters, two overdose patients in a hospital ward. It's more integrated, character- wise, than An NHS Christmas which drew the character of Jeffrey so well that the other three characters were in his shadow. Painkillers shows real tenderness between its characters. All the actors did well. In An NHS Christmas Dustin Hutchinson did justice to a wonderful part as Jeffrey and Isabella Jakubas, in a more diffcult role was convincing as a disillusioned young nurse. Liz Berry in Painkillers conveyed anguish so well I nearly cried.

A little updating of hospital procedures is needed ( hospitals use machines to take temperatures now, not thermometers). But these are brave plays, well directed and managing to be theatrical within the restrictions of most of the characters being confined to hospital beds. You can catch the last performance of An
NHS Christmas tonight, Friday 2nd March.

(c)Maureen Sangster 2001. Used with permission of EdinburghGuide.com

NB - It was as a result of this review that I applied to work at EdinburghGuide.com with the line "If you like my writing, give me a job." Which they did, the mad crazy fools.