Review: Godber’s play This Might Hurt puts health service under the microscope

This Might Hurt, starring Rob Angell and Rachael Abbey
This Might Hurt, starring Rob Angell and Rachael Abbey

People strive, systems fail is a line which clings to you like sticking plaster.

You want to peel that plaster away to see a wound that’s healing but the scar is deep and the damage irreparable without surgery.

Dramatic words but ones which sum up the state of the National Health Service as depicted in This Might Hurt, a bitter-sweet play by John Godber.

Dark humour focusing on foreign doctors, disrespectful staff and benefits-grabbing patients abounds in the first half where doctors save the life of a man with a blood clot and all it costs him is £237 in hospital parking charges.

But the second part shows the human cost of suffering through the eyes of a terminally ill old lady, her nephew who is looking after her at home and the carers on minimum wage who are powerless to lift her or administer pain-killing drugs.

Robert Angell heads the cast as an actor who doubles as the elderly aunt, supported by Rachael Abbey and Josie Morley playing nearly 30 characters between them including patients, doctors, nurses and carers.

Described as a memory play and based on true experiences, it is often uncomfortable to watch but compulsive viewing nonetheless.

What is clear is that the National Health Service is in as much need of tender, loving care as the patients it was set up to look after from the cradle to the grave.

This Might Hurt is at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield until Saturday, October 1, and at Buxton Opera House from October 10 to 12.