- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

After the Cuts review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘funny and fire-stirring’

Pauline Knowles and George Docherty in After the Cuts by Gary McNair at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Eoin Carey

Yikes. Gary McNair’s After the Cuts, one of a few shows about the NHS this Fringe, paints a pretty startling picture of the future; a pretty ominous portrait of where the dismantlement of our public health service will lead.

Set in 2042 in a dystopian Britain where free hospitals are a thing of the past, it presents Jim and Agnes, an ageing couple who can’t afford healthcare. They’re uninsurables. So when Agnes is diagnosed with lung cancer, Jim, a mechanic by trade, can only see one solution: he’ll have to operate on her himself.

It’s a play about surgery, but it’s anything but surgical. McNair’s play has a big, beating heart, and it’s also wickedly funny, especially in the later scenes when Jim starts his bloody preparations, dissecting smaller mammals in his garage and practising on a corpse he’s bodysnatched.

Beth Morton’s production is slow and sensitive, and there’s real tenderness in the relationship between George Docherty’s likeably bumbling George and Pauline Knowles’ potty-mouthed Agnes.

And, although it’s not in the foreground, there’s palpable political anger here, too, driving the dark humour on. Agnes has a particularly brilliant speech, a defiant two fingers to Westminster eloquently encapsulating the casual cruelty of Tory policy – funny and fire-stirring simultaneously.

[1]

Verdict
A darkly funny dystopia about life after the dismantling of the NHS

Production

Production
After the Cuts
Venue
Summerhall
City
Edinburgh
Starts
August 1, 2018
Ends
August 26, 2018
Authors
Gary McNair
Director
Beth Morton
Set
Jessica Brettle
Lighting
Malcolm Rogan
Sound
Simon Liddell
Costume
Jessica Brettle
Stage manager
Kara Jackson
Production manager
Malcolm Rogan
Cast includes
George Docherty, Pauline Knowles
Producer
Raw Material, iaw The Beacon Arts Centre
Running time
1hr