Fringe Online 2021
Working through a number of stages – Amoeba, Doors, Beds, Masks, Only Fools and Nurses, Fracture, Builders, Bubbles, Should I Stay, Superheroes and A Call to Care – we are taken in words and in deeds through a hospital style landscape, inside and out whilst being given the content and the context of why do we care and why we should pay attention to the care in our midst. All of which is choreographed and danced as the words are spoken.
This has a clearly political message underpinning the scripted words. That we have applauded our nurses and essential workers, but we need to progress, move on to value them in a new framework. The best future of care can only come if we learn the lessons of the past and it is in no small part that the funding package for this project includes support from the Royal College of Nursing who are central to that debate.
But it is a performance piece.
The firsthand narratives are compelling, not least because they are both authentic and delivered with the words leading the tale. There is no artifice or dressing up. It is clarity and communicated as truth, a heady mixture.
The choreography are the central foci of the visuals and that manages to draw our attention to the deft underlying fleet of foot that many a nurse has had to find and practice time and again during the pandemic. Having a dancer, dance, the day of a nurse is indeed a homage rather than solely an interpretation. It has some powerful elements within it which can draw you – especially in the corridor filled with lighting sockets and a basement feel.
The haunting melodies played out aurally elevate such visuals to the point where the environmental has a balance between the medical background and an artistic launchpad.
It is filmed with great skill and the beauty of some of the lighting, natural and well captured adds to the feel that we have something of great note and great beauty in our midst. The simple, yet complex, job of caring for others.
And yet, given the need for a Royal College to be part of it, it has a lack of anger which would be forgivable. I wanted to hear more fury and tempestuousness in the narrative, more fatigue and reality in the movement. It felt elegiac rather than effective at times and whilst the loveliness of our NHS is to be celebrated, its defense may need a barricade or twenty to ensure its survival. For now, though, this cannot be seen as anything other than fitting.