Writer: Shey Hargreaves
Director: Molly Naylor
Reviewer: Brendan James
SICK is a true personal account of a young graduate who embarks on their first job out of university. Something to pay the bills but will also engender a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of serving the greater good. Shey Hargreaves enters as a bright-eyed young optimist, intent on giving what she can to those who need her. Her self penned play charts her four years on the front line as a receptionist in an accident and emergency ward, combining her personal and professional life to present a frank, sincere and touching play that addresses sexuality, motherhood, and grief.
The set is sparse, Hargreaves moves between her work desk and the comfortable armchair of her boyfriend’s home. Having these two clearly designated areas help simply convey the exhausting feeling of going from work to sleep and back again. Unfortunately, there were some brief dips in the quality of the lighting which seemed to be an incident particular to this venue as opposed to a detail in the show.
Far from being a personal sob story or indeed an opportunity to bash the NHS Hargreaves politely and with calm clarity takes the audience through some of the bizarrely humorous and shocking aspects of her experience. She never shies away from speaking plainly about the impact of various political measures. Hargreaves’ personable and genuine performance means that she is able to discuss such weighty matters eloquently and without judgement. One feels like this is less a theatre piece and more an intimate conversation with a dear friend.
SICK is a brutal and tender exploration of one individual’s attempt to impact and survive the gruelling demands of our strained National Health Service as well as becoming a first time Mum. Subtle adjustments to physicality and voice help her portray numerous other characters and she occupies the space well, a difficult task for the one-woman show. The production is pared back and unfussy so it is storytelling that prevails here, and Hargreaves is a natural yarn spinner. At an hour-long Hargreaves is able to move from the delightfully humorous to the delicately heartbreaking. Political, tender and necessary.
Reviewed on 20th March | Image: Mark Hannant