- Eddie Harrison
- 22 August 2018
A bleak future without the NHS takes a toll on a young couple's relationship
The NHS is universally agreed to be a good thing; politicians fall over themselves to indicate that their party is the one that has the future of the NHS at heart. But what would life be like without it? Orange Skies Theatre offers up In Addition as an answer; if the prospect of a polemic leaves audiences cold, it's worth noting that this play explores the personal issues involved with real skill.
Sheyna (Rachel Elizabeth Coleman) and Ben (Tom Mason) are a couple facing up to a number of issues after two years of marriage. These include eczema, insomnia, expectations expressed by their aging parents, unscrupulous employers with dubious short-term contracts and many other familiar maladies of the 21st century. A night-out is interrupted by news that their flat has been broken into, and a laptop stolen. This brief incursion sets up a domino effect of bad luck that puts a strain on their relationship; the cost of dealing with various health issues is intertwined with the survival of the couple's relationship.
Director Daisy Minto's play is set in a future where healthcare is monitored and paid-for by chip and pin cards; this isn't a world where things have changed for the better. In Addition spends a lot of time building up the realities of Sheyna and Ben's coal-face existence to make it clear why their reluctance to use their card and consequent neglect of themselves, might come about. A sub-plot about Ben's work as a video-editor for a wayward You-Tube blogger also feels of-the-moment for 2018, and fits in with the theme of systematic abuse.
In Addition isn't a barrel of laughs; it's bleak, painful to watch, and ends without much hope. But it's also powerful, empathetic and angry; this isn't a soft option as an early-morning fringe entertainment, but it's a worthwhile one.
Underbelly Iron Belly, until 26 Aug, 10.50am, £9-10, (£8-9).