Seeking creative freedom and a platform for experimental, thought-provoking work, a young theatre company, is currently exploring the topical subject of the NHS.
With a dystopian, last hospital standing, story of celeb Adrian Lovett having a heart transplant on screen to boost his flagging ratings, the Brave Badger Theatre production has been stirring up some lively audience discussion.
The voice of reason resides in consultant surgeon, Miss Butts, played by Harriet Madeley, who has had some tremendous reviews and is capable of breaking out of her sensible Scottish persona to swig whisky with the patient and cavort about in her scrubs to ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’.
Aged 26, having begun her acting career courtesy of the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Harriet has had various TV roles and appeared in Shakesperian stage productions. In this quirky, alternative inspection of the NHS entrails, she is a convincing senior surgeon.
“We have done our research to present the heart operation with some accuracy and had advice from surgeons as we put the play together,” says Harriet. “The Heart of Adrian Lovett has been great fun to perform in and, with audiences including medics, the discussions, which we incorporated, have been very enlightening.
“There has been quite a bit of talk about such things as charging patients to attend accident & emergency or if they don’t keep GPs’ appointments, but the overwhelming view has been that the NHS must remain free for all patients and protected from commercial imperatives.”
The eponymous Adrian Lovett is the archetypal egotistical TV personality. Fame is slipping away, together with his heart’s ability to sustain life, thanks to Class A drugs and hard drinking.
The last NHS hospital needs funds, Adrian needs fans, it’s a marriage made in hell. But great for young audiences and well worth nipping along to Theatre Delicatessen in the old Guardian building in Farringdon Rad to see – seems the most appropriate location.
Brave Badger belongs to Harriet and James Maclaren (Adrian Lovett), Mark Knightley (writer/director) and Lauren Pratt (stage design). The first three collaborated in production and says Harriet, “It’s liberating, if a bit nerve wracking, to have total control as working actors.
“My role is a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed learning about the surgeon’s craft. I have to admit though that I’d much prefer to be working in this kind of theatre, where it’s not a matter of life and death but of entertaining the audience.”
The other actors in the play are Alice Henley, excellent as Adrian’s long-suffering ex-wife and Tom Ross-Williams, a convincing Machiavellian registrar hiding under a genial exterior.
The Lottery and Arts Council funded play is at Theatre Delicatessen 119 Farringdon Road.
Tickets at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1260571