Theatre Royal Plymouth
Bouncy songs explore three patients’ experiences in this ambitious and spirited show about the health service’s history and current crisis
As audiences return to theatres, will they want razzle-dazzle escapism or plays that grapple with the seismic events of the past 18 months? Few shows could claim to do both, but NHS the Musical delivers a bright, brassy night out while examining an institution beset by burnout and excessive workloads even before the pandemic.
Written by Nick Stimson and composed by Jimmy Jewell, it is put across with such energy that the cast seem to sustain the spirit of lockdown’s clap for carers across two hours of songs and skits. An opening montage of news footage starting in Wuhan serves as a reminder of how we came to be sitting, masked, in a theatre kitted out with sanitiser dispensers and approaching what may be one of the NHS’s worst winters in its history.