Thursday, 31 July 2014

Derby Theatre Pulse a review

Pulse, is a Derby community production to get the blood pumping. Slick, very professional on all fronts and full of well developed and totally believable characters with a witty and often moving script by Sally Siner. Every member of the large cast should be proud of this show and their evident total commitment to it. If ever there was a chance to say "break a leg" this hospital based show would be it and there would be several dedicated practitioners there to help in a second and each would be supporting the other as they do on stage - with love and attention. The whole ensemble also executed the many scene changes with admirable clarity.

Directed with style and great imagination by Caroline Barth, Pulse covers all aspects of life and death within the body of the fictional Orb hospital and the multi-level setting means that it lends itself to drama that goes from realistic to surrealistic, from dramatic to traumatic within a heart beat. Clever use of lighting and soundscape both electronic and provided by the cast through ensemble expulsions of breath and song carry the various stories along superbly. I loved the orb shaped circular centre piece onto which various X ray type images were projected to indicate which ward or department we were being shown.

Jean Cherry
Of course with such a big cast of thirty eight it is a particularly hard task to praise everyone however deserving. None-the -less I was impressed by the truth and professionalism of Jean Cherry as the elderly dying patient Unity Brown and equally by Joshua Adams as Sam the young cardiac patient. Both were especially touching during their 'communication' scenes. Throughout Lea Holmes as Roman made a part that potentially could have been corny a completely understated and surprisingly alive joy to watch.

In fact, overall, there were many moments when I had to consider that I wasn't watching assured professionals working on stage when the reality was that this is a group of talented amateurs - in the very best sense of the word.

During each production the text is signed throughout and great variety and complicity was brought into the work as two deaf actresses did a whole amusing scene in sign language to deserved applause from the near capacity audience. The play is also supported with simultaneous text running on two screens either side of the stage.

To quote Caroline Barth the director "This theatre piece is a heightened look at 24 hours in an ordinary hospital and the company work beautifully together to create non-naturalistic moments that lift us out of reality... fast paced and funny it also makes us realise the value of the NHS and how fragile it would become if we don't value it and fight for it."

Photographic images by Robert Day.

Pulse plays until Saturday 2nd August. Climb out of your hospital bed if you must and go and see it. You'll feel instantly better.

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