Review: Surgeons: A Farce

9 May 2013

Surgeons: A Farce

Corpus Playroom, Tues 7th-Sat 11th May, 9.30pm

Surgeons: A Farce is set in the staffroom of a failing NHS hospital on the day of an inspection. The plot is largely driven by the disasters that, inevitably, ensue. These include one surgeon gluing his hand to a chair whilst trying to cover up his murder of a colleague’s canary, whilst another surgeon, after accidentally killing the patient the inspector wanted to see, tries, with the help of the hospital administrator, to hide the corpse in a cupboard.

There were moments of excellent dark humour. Tom’s (Milo Edwards) endless stories of malpractice and adamant refusal to miss Jeremy Kyle shows in order to perform operations were both amusing and disturbing, whilst the nonchalant way he introduced Kate (Alys Williams) to the corpse of Mr Jones (Ivan Gostev) got a good laugh.

However, a lot of the attempted humour in this play felt rather forced. The puns parried between Tom and Pete (Rob Foxall-Smith) after accidentally gluing themselves to bits of furniture were neither witty nor original and Pete’s endless sexual innuendoes were equally insipid. The melodramatic story of the infamous Rolf’s dismissal was more tedious than entertaining; it simply failed to be sufficiently scandalous or ludicrous.

Furthermore, most of the plot was incredibly predictable and unoriginal. It was obvious from the first moment Kate drew attention to her beloved pet canary that this creature was going to meet an unfortunate end, whilst the ploy of gluing it to its perch was blatantly drawn straight from Monty Python. The plot felt stale; it lacked any genuine suspense or novelty and, therefore, it failed to truly engage the audience. I found myself not really caring what happened to either the hospital or its staff. The ending of this play was also somewhat lacklustre.

The stale plot was somewhat redeemed by the acting. The play’s characters were all extremely stereotyped, but the actors still managed to bring energy to the roles. Milo Edwards’ depiction of the cynical and callous surgeon and Nathan Jeffers’ depiction of the pompous and ambitious administrator were particularly good.

The set was well put together; the staffroom’s blood red walls and array of juvenile posters made an appropriate backdrop for the staff’s constant, lethal incompetence. The use of dramatic lighting to try to add excitement to scenes was also well-done, even if the scenes themselves fell rather flat.

Overall, this play was mediocre; it fulfilled all the necessary criteria for a farce, but failed to offer anything new or exciting.

Martha Fromson

Image – ADC Theatre