Sometimes the smaller off-West End theatres have some amazing gems playing in them just waiting to be discovered and Being Patient at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington is just such a treasure.
A simple set – basically an Islington living room – and two fairly normal people, Pete and Abi (Steven Mortimer and Francesca De Sica) grab your attention as they come home from a fairly standard middle class night out and chat before bed. The talk is initially about their evening, their hopes and dreams and all those discussions we have after being out with friends and families. But underlying this chatter is the much deeper subject, at first just throwaway parts of the conversation, of Pete’s kidney problems and his regular trips to the hospital for dialysis. Even when mentioned it is initially treated as a bit of a joke – my favourite line was Abi describing the magazines Pete reads when on treatment as “Jeremy Kyle for people that can read” – but very quickly the kidney issue comes to dominate the conversation more and more until it is the only thing they talk about.
Ultimately, they are waiting for ‘that’ phone call to happen. The one which tells Pete there is a kidney ready for him. Both characters have very different ways to cope with the waiting and as the conversation gets deeper it is obvious that their coping mechanisms are actually a surprise to their partner.
They say you should write what you know, and in this case, the author, Steven Mortimer, has been through the stage of waiting for that call. This is probably why both Pete and Abi are so believable in what they say. The feeling that Pete must have every day, when he sees or hears someone is dead and then automatically wonders if this is the death that will give him life must be truly awful to live with. On Abi’s part, she too is living with the waiting and comes up with her own, to her mind eminently sensible, solution – offering her own kidney to Pete, and shooting down all of his reasons for not accepting.
This part of the play really triggered some discussion afterwards. What would I do if I was the one needing an organ and my partner offered it to me? Or, on the flip side, would I be willing to offer my partner a part of my body to save their life? Thankfully, I don’t have to consider either question just now, and I would hate to ever be put in those positions.
Aside from the very well written dialogue, the two actors bring their characters to life brilliantly. They have a chemistry about them, and seem very relaxed in each other’s company – almost like the couple they play – but both can confront the other when they need to.
This one act play is hopefully going to the Edinburgh festival soon where, I have no doubt; it will go down really well as it deserves to.
If you aren’t going to get to see it, then without any spoilers, let me tell you there are 4 phone calls throughout the course of the play, and registering for organ donation is very easy, visit http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ for more details.
Review by Terry Eastham
at Rosemary Branch Theatre
24-27 July 7.30pm
All tickets £10.00
Special matinee 27 July 2.30pm
All tickets £10.00
Box office on 020 7704 6665
Being Patient by Steven Mortimer, directed by Peter Eastland, with Steven Mortimer and Francesca de Sica
Pete is a young man with a seriously dodgy kidney. He is waiting for a phone call from the hospital that will transform his life, and definitely that of his girlfriend, Abi. This is the story of a young couple struggling to keep it together away from the hospital wards, dialysis units and waiting rooms in this frank and honest look at life, love and laughter on the Transplant waiting list. Written by a two time kidney transplant survivor who has certainly been there, and got all the T-shirts.
Spare Parts are delighted to return to The Rosie with this preview of Being Patient which will be performed at Café Camino as part of the PBH Free Fringe at this years Edinburgh Festival. Dedicated to raising awareness of transplantation through performance, and there will be a bucket for donations to Kidney Research UK at the end of every performance.
Spare Parts Theatre Company
A theatre company established to raise awareness of transplant and dialysis issues through performance.
Sunday 27th July 2014