Image: Resuscitate Theatre
Cast and creatives
Adam Deane : Dr. Tom Jenkins
Nico Pimpare: Dr Kal
Penny Rodie: Dr. Lucy Wright
Christina Carty: Dr. Felicity Clarke
Alex Hinson: Dr. Grace Collins
Iain Gibbons: Dr. Dominic Cavendish
Kal is seriously considering euthanizing the next patient who asks to be treated by a proper English doctor.
Dom just wants to get into the shower while there’s still hot water.
Lucy got her last choice ward and feels like she’s drowning.
Tom’s getting good at tuning everything out and would quite like to keep it that way.
Grace is just looking for someone to feed her cat while she’s on call.
They all work in the hospital down the road from you.
Resuscitate present a collection of the sometimes funny, sometimes tragic true stories from the inside of the surgical mask.
Follow the paths of five junior doctors as they struggle to balance the pressures of the ward against their personal lives.
Rounds features stunning physical work from Lecoq ensemble interwoven with projection and visual theatre.
In terms of topicality, this devised show, based on real-life, verbatim accounts from those at the sharp end of working-life in the NHS, couldn't be more timely.
Over the past few months, we've all witnessed seemingly endless news reports showing frazzled doctors and nursing staff trying to cope with the dual pressures of ever-rising demand and ever-stretched budgets.
Our treasured National Health Service, providing free health care to all, is in crisis and our political masters seem incapable of devising the means to make it 'well' again.
In this piece from Resuscitate Theatre (an aptly-named company given the theme under consideration here) we get an insider's view of the working lives of one group of employees in the NHS - the junior doctors.
Now we do hear a little about nurses - sometimes concerning their "gossiping", and sometimes about the way they help get the novice doctors out of difficult situations.
And we also hear a little about the 'grown-up' doctors - the more experienced registrars - and, of course, patients.
But, essentially, the play is concerned with junior doctors who are in their first jobs - and they're struggling.
In fact, though some of them seem initially confident, they struggle in almost every possible way, in spite of their dedication and desperate desire "to help people".
What we witness are glimpses of the junior doctors' lives both during their working day and in those rare moments when they have time off.
These 'glimpses' are fairly short, and probably necessarily so given the overall style of the work which leans heavily on orchestrated, sometimes near-balletic, movement.
Many of the events we hear about or see are worrying.
At various points, we find the doctors unable to remember the procedures they've been taught, or failing to record doses of medication they've given (with potentially lethal consequences) or stabbing wildly at a patient's arm to locate a vein in order to take a blood sample.
One doctor sums up her shift by saying : "All I've done is hurt people".
We also hear of the unendurably long working hours and the sheer complexity of the job - in one scene, we hear a doctor rattle-off a set of diagnostic procedures which, to the uninitiated, sounds like a completely different language - and, of course, it is.
Though what we witness is enough to amply inform us about the sheer scale of the problems and extreme stresses the doctors face, I longed to know more about the individual characters.
And, in among the cock-ups, forgetfulness and stress-induced errors, we tend to lose sight a little of the fact that these young people are some of the most intelligent and hard-working in our community - you don't even get near a medical school if you haven't got top exam grades, for example.
A fine soundscape from Paul Freeman amply sets the tone here, and the extensive and detailed movement, well-directed by Davide Vox and ably choreographed by Lexi Clare, is delivered with spot-on timing and impressively formulated.
The dialogue, though, is not always so impressive.
Occasionally, the exchanges between the characters felt a little stilted, lacking the natural ring of everyday speech-patterns, even taking into account that the characters are supposed to be under severe pressure.
That minor gripe aside, this is a well-researched and well-planned production from a skilful team which boldly tackles a difficult subject with considerable sensitivity and honesty.
Disturbing at times - and sometimes pointedly humorous - Rounds effectively brings home the enormity of what we ask of junior doctors, and leaves us feeling there must be a better way of delivering the care we all need while easing the unbearable burdens on those we depend on to provide it.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Blue Elephant Theatre
Our show listing for Rounds
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