In her one-woman show, Sick, Shey Hargreaves gives a one-hour performance detailing her experiences as an NHS receptionist on an emergency unit at the peak of austerity. Hargreaves tells an interesting story, using both poignancy and humour that provides an overall enjoyable experience.
With a simple set of just an armchair and desk, Hargreaves interchanges between both to tell personal stories of her home life and, at times, worrying and upsetting accounts of her work. This switching, both physically and verbally, is an effective technique for delivering her performance. It gives movement on stage and adds personality to her story. As well as this, she continuously changes between being in character, acting out her life events, and breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly. This works well as it gives the audience a sense of who Hargreaves was, alongside the dramatic retelling of her life.
The performance’s strongest aspect is its use and acknowledgement of the real-life occurrences that austerity has had on public services, especially the NHS. She tells the audience, with convincing emotion, the sad reality of our underfunded, overcrowded and mistreated health system. This carries the performance, as it is rare NHS staff are given a microphone and put on a stage. We take them for granted and don’t fully consider what it’s like to work in an increasingly neglected public service. Hargreaves combats this, making the audience listen and think about those people.
Yet, Hargreaves approach to be quirky and relatable to the audience felt tedious at times. Sadly, comedy took up nearly half of the dramatic delivery and was not effective in her routine.
It is still, however, an interesting artistic exploration of the political world we live in, and one which incites an important discussion..
Image Credit: Mark Hannant