Vault (Crescent) Leake Street
Drawing on memories of the twelve cast members and devised dance sequences, the company PappyShow in 2018 created a “love letter to the NHS” to celebrate its seventieth birthday.
It takes us from birth to death, with performers each saying where they were born and later what they would like to happen when they die. “Street party” says one. Another simply requests us to “pray for me.”
The short dance / physical movement pieces are always graceful, sometimes hectic, but it is the stories—often funny, always positive—that we are most likely to remember.
Aaron Gordon describes how, at the age of eight or nine, he pretended to have a frozen face and was taken to the hospital. After some time, he admitted what he was doing and got some sessions with a psychotherapist.
He wasn’t the only unusual patient to spend time with a hospital.
Rakhee Sharma recalls her mother worrying the nurses with her nighttime antics, in which she would take between seven and ten patients to play statues in the common room. After several nights of trying to stop them, the nurses gave up and joined in the game.
All the cast had received some kind of NHS help with problems from broken limbs to Elsa Hacket’s lost voice and, given the way they danced and Elsa sang, they had all recovered.
The show steers away from anything bleak and even when it dips into something that might cause concern it is to give us a piece of good news. Thus, when a calculation is made of what Aaron had cost the NHS up to this point in his life, the sum came to £9,478, which another cast member contrasted with the payment she made in America of $300 a month insurance for basics, with more on top for any treatment.
Much of the care we receive relies on the goodwill of its staff, from cleaners to doctors. Someone describes how his mother, a night shift nurse, would always give up the day she wasn’t working if requested by the hospital.
The show does not touch on any of the worrying issues and controversies with the NHS which daily figure in news bulletins. It is, instead, simply an entertaining tribute to an organisation that has made a positive difference to everyone’s life.