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Floating (Tour - Liverpool)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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That’s what you feel when the drugs do work but here, ‘floating’ is more the experience of working in IDU, a place so eerie that the narrator, a very hard working Susannah Freeman, finds it difficult to summon words of description.

The set is near as dammit a hospital – a typical elderly person’s living room with one of those sturdy armchairs, table and cupboard covered with mementos. Changes of scene are enhanced by clever use of lighting, with a background of hospital noises and the relating of political facts and figures which gradually grow distorted, along with rather odd ambient cum Minnie Ripperton music.

So we learn how the nurse copes with work (and about some of her homelife) in three hospital scenarios - the good, the bad and the ugly, basically. The last is the most effective – the hard man trying to deal with his mate’s suffering and blaming those trying to help.

Yet the dear old soul’s story is not so much signposted as neon lit, and oddly inconsistent; the excellent impersonation of his beloved wife raises unanswered questions in the light of later information. And while the wicked witch of a patient is cunningly introduced, the succeeding attempt at raising the dramatic stakes falls flat. Indignation is a powerful reaction to evoke in the audience; there would be greater sympathy for more biting examples of unfair treatment.

There are a number of revelations, however, and playwright Sam Freeman often manages to confound expectations. But while an interesting balance of the harsh and the benevolent, we all have stories to tell, frequently about our health, and because this is not sure whether to be fact or fiction, a stronger dose of medicine may have made it better.

- Carole Baldock


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