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Theatre Review: Check Up--Our NHS at 70 ****

Michael Cox reviews a 'theatrical love letter' to the NHS.

Let’s be honest: audiences are going to know straight off the bat whether or not they are going to enjoy Check Up: Our NHS at 70 based on whether or not they like Mark Thomas. Thomas does what he does best here: take a political topic, explore it and present his findings on stage.

For this piece, Thomas spoke with a doctor to better understand what he can expect his body to do from this point in his life on, shadowed a number of NHS professionals in their jobs and interviewed political figures who had some responsibility to the organisation. And while there are no major revelations here, many of the facts he presents are shocking to hear, particularly to those who might not have heard them before.

But what Thomas brings to the stage is an undeniable belief in the NHS and what it stands for. His passion is palpable and he paints a portrait of an organisation that needs to be defended in order to continue. Even if Thomas does revel in political anger, he peppers the piece with a cheeky sense of humour. It’s also more journalistic than many of his previous pieces—though his beliefs and feelings are clear, the piece is far more about reporting what he’s learned than changing people’s thinking to concur with his.

Which makes Check Up less agitprop performance and more theatrical love letter to a vital component of British society.

Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is at the Traverse until August 26th. Check website for specific times.

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