For All I Care review at Venue 1, Tredegar – ‘powerful and political’
This new play by Alan Harris is one of National Theatre Wales’ five Love Letters to the NHS. Its location could not be more apt, venue and action being based in Tredegar, birthplace of the Health Service’s founder Aneurin Bevan.
Alexandria Riley plays Clara and Nyrie, as well as all supporting roles. Clara is a young woman with mental health issues caught in a cycle of self-harm, shoplifting to order, and escaping the wrath of small-time crime-lord Diane.
Nyrie (named after Nye Bevan) is her nurse in the mental health unit, world-weary but almost evangelical in her commitment to the principles of the NHS (her mother was a nurse and she still owns the information leaflet given to all people in 1948 explaining the service). When the two women’s lives become more deeply entwined, Nyrie and Clara find the NHS’s financial limitations far outweigh the values inherent in the care system. Clara’s way out from her cycle of despair becomes blocked by red tape.
For All I Care delivers an important political message and yet transcends tub-thumping diatribe. In fact, it’s a fun, frenetic 60 minutes steered by Alexandria Riley’s scintillating performance. Still a relative newcomer, she is a real talent.
Jac Ifan Moore’s direction and Katy Morison’s (literally) dazzling lighting design gives the space a kinetic energy, with writer Alan Harris continuing to demonstrate his talent for representing the intelligence, humanity and wit that can be found in even the toughest of circumstances.