Writer: Matt Woodhead
Director: Matt Woodhead
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
Hot on the heels of Lung’s ground-breaking Trojan Horse comes Who Cares – a searing indictment of the impact of austerity on support services for young carers. Based on real-life testimonies, this slickly staged and superbly performed piece cuts right to the heart of a failing system.
The action centres on Jade, Nicole and Connor – three young carers whose stories overlap, unfold and unravel as the play goes on. Each character has a thoroughly developed through line, with Jessica Temple, Lizzie Mounter and Luke Jurgen putting in powerful performances.
As well as sharing their individual experiences, the trio’s plights highlight the stress, anxiety and exclusion felt by the thousands of young people who care for a parent or family member. Connor cares for both parents, one with a physical health condition and another suffering from mental ill health. Nicole’s mother has a physical disability, while Jade is caring for both her father and brother. These are three stories, but they represent a legion of young people whose lives revolve around worries and concerns well beyond their years, and a system that is supposed to support them but has been cut to the bone by successive Conservative governments.
Forced to “grow up too fast” – becoming carers at 4, 7 and 8 respectively – the piece also highlights the lack of inclusion young carers feel in their loved one’s care. Being denied entry to a ward or to travel in an ambulance with their family member, being ignored as they collect prescriptions, being constantly omitted from care plans when the system is content to let them do the heavy lifting, seems outrageous and downright cruel.
This is a hard-hitting and thought-provoking play that does not pull its punches. 1 in 12 young people is a carer, and the situation is dire. With DLA assessments, cuts to legal aid, referrals to food banks and 12-month waiting lists for psychological support, the estimated 70,000 young carers in this country need help and support now. As Nicole’s mother says, “we deserve more than this”. They certainly do.
Runs until 25 August 2019 | Image: Comtributed