Set inside the Outpatients Unit in Royal Gwent Hospital, this piece of immersive theatre, actually takes you into the ward to meet nurses, consultants, porters and cleaners – played by a variety of actors.
Physical sets were created inside real life consulting rooms, that transported you into ‘Nans’ living room, a shrine to Aneurin Bevan and even a former green house in Whitchurch Hospital complete with its own herb garden. You heard stories based on the lives of real people who lived, worked and breathed, thanks to the NHS.
The show used cleverly designed soundscapes, by Tic Ashfield, which helped place the audience in the right era as well making you feel the discomfort of a hospital waiting room. By using the technique of immersive theatre and having small groups of audience members, one on one with an actor, in a very small space – they were able to tell an honest, compassionate story to the audience.
Saying this however, as an audience member it is confronting and threatening when the fourth wall is taken down and by the end of the show I felt very trapped and force-fed one opinion on the NHS. It was also an extremely small capacity audience event so another example of our generously funded English-language National Theatre only reaching very limited numbers of people.
All in all, hats off for what would have been a heavy logistical, directorial and timing burdened show, in a public building.
As Long as the Heart Beats ran from the 21st to the 22nd of July and was apart of the NHS70 festival, presented by the National Theatre Wales.