Alan Harris is an uncompromising writer – his plays slip and stumble along, often with a healthy dose of hectic surrealism stuffed in. He had a hit at Summerhall two years ago with Sugar Baby, and he’s back this year with For All I Care, a one-woman play produced by National Theatre Wales and directed by Jac Ifan Moore.
It’s set, symbolically, in Tredegar, the birthplace of the NHS’ founding father Nye Bevan. Hannah Daniel plays two women – Clara, a troubled teenager with a shoplifting problem, spiralling schizophrenia and suicidal thoughts, and Nyri, an NHS nurse at a mental health facility that can’t find room for Clara.
Slipping swiftly between the two roles, Daniel unfolds a slightly scrappy, coincidental story of friendship, crime and care that points an accusatory finger squarely at successive governments’ underfunding and understaffing of the NHS.
Moore’s production is sharply staged – a white chair on a reflective square stage, with three microphones dangling from the ceiling – and Daniel deftly delineates between the two roles.
But Harris’ play doesn’t quite hit the hurtling heights of his earlier work. We’ve heard this story before. It has plenty of praiseworthy political passion, but does nothing new with it.