Tuesday, 8 January 2019

REVIEW: This Is Going To Hurt - The Lowry Theatre, Salford

It was only a few days prior to seeing Adam Kay’s show that my friend, who is currently dating a junior Doctor, had told me about the book This Is Going To Hurt. He was trying to relay to me the potential strain that training puts on young doctors’ relationships and the problematic, uncompromising necessity to move about the UK in order to learn/work/meet demand. The book had sat promisingly at the front of most bookshops I had past-by over the Christmas months and, had I not had this opportunity, I would have purchased it - eventually.

I was surprised to hear that Kay’s show was playing in the Lyric Theatre, the main space at The Lowry, because being popular at Edinburgh Fringe does not, for the most part, equate to filling a 1700+ capacity theatre space. Yet the show was here and the space was inundated with people keen to see Adam and hear the reading. I say reading because the production, which came before the book, is comprised of incidents, accidents and simply baffling obligations required by the medical career Kay pursued between the years 2004 to 2010. The stage itself is grand and Kay’s production was made up of his microphone, piano and a small, familiar stack of sick buckets. Had I seen the performance in a more intimate space I might have needed one myself - his anecdotes were raw. They were challenging, forcing you to see light in very dark and bleak scenarios; Kay demonstrated the actuality of the medical profession and his applaudable unwavering tolerance for blood, babies and bad attitudes.

Kay was the ideal spokesperson for these matters: he had the demeanour of a medic, the wit of a seasoned performer and, much to my delight, was also quite a good singer. His use of reconstructed hits, including a musical quiz in which the audience had to guess the diagnosis following the melody of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, were useful events to break up episodes of storytelling. The extracts included in the production were ordered chronologically but were clearly handled with craft. Alongside this planning, Kay has to be praised for his ability to maintain a crowd of our size’s appetite single-handedly; there was no moment that felt devoid of attention or detail.

The denouement of Kay’s work left every involved listener affected: to cast the resolution of his production at doctors in training, at a career path he no longer follows, was selfless and even further demonstrated the purpose of his stories: doctors are people that have their patients' best interests at heart, have emotional lives as equally vivid, difficult and complex as ours (if not, more so) and, as Kay expressed in his show, have the potential to be painfully funny - the title embodies it all.

Reviewer - Jessica Wiehler
on - 7/1/19

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