The blog has taken a back seat over the last month due to the fun and frolics of the day job so apologies to regular readers (both of you) for the lack of rambles and rants of late. I just had to break radio silence this morning, however, to strongly and enthusiastically recommend that you go see Shey Hargreave‘s affecting, compelling, and downright wonderful Sick — “a storytelling show… documenting one receptionist’s journey through four years of austerity”.
I went to see Sick at the Nottingham Arts Theatre last night and it was one of the most moving and entertaining shows I’ve seen. Ever. Shey’s performance — a one hour monologue that seemed to fly by in five minutes because I was so caught up in the story — is entirely believable because it draws from her experience of, as Shey herself puts it, the “organised chaos of an emergency medical unit” when she worked as a clerk in the NHS from 2013 to 2017.
Nottingham’s LeftLion’s review of the show captures what makes it so very special:
Littered with well timed jokes and frequently laugh out loud funny, whilst telling tragically sad stories, SICK is a bizarrely charming and entertaining show. A bittersweet study of what makes us human, and a funny and approachable call to political arms told in Hargreaves’ appealing, warm and honest style.
I should come clean at this point and admit that I’ve known Shey for a number of years. We’ve worked together, along with Charli Vince and Brigitte Nerlich, on a graphic novel, Open Day (which we’re hoping will be published in the not-too-distant future. More about that in due course. Charli and Brigitte have both previously blogged about Open Day — here and here.)
I knew from her Open Day script that Shey is a talented and engaging writer but I was delighted to find out last night that she is also an exceptional actor. The audience was rapt throughout — alternately chocking back tears and laughing out loud. That ability to connect so well comes from the compelling honesty of Sick; as Shey puts it in a wonderfully named podcast about the show, “It’s fucking hard sometimes” to perform a piece that is based on, at times, harrowing real-life experiences. What was remarkable about last night was Shey’s ability to not only balance that sadness with laughter but to blend perceptive political analysis (NHS funding, Brexit, nationalism…) seamlessly into the narrative.
There are still a number of dates left on the Sick tour (including another date in Nottingham Arts Theatre tonight.) You owe it to yourself to go. I guarantee you’ll have, in Shey’s words, “a Right Good Time.”