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  • Writer's pictureFrances

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor Live by Adam Kay | The Lowry | Manchester

Reliving his pressure-filled years as a junior doctor for the NHS, Adam Kay brings his Jekyll and Hyde experience to the Lowry stage. Plunging through his professional diary that followed him from 2004 until 2010, Kay’s animated talk laying out the hard truths of working in the underfunded, pressure driven world of medicine is back by popular demand. Clearly connecting with a vast number of public sector workers, the stage shows disturbingly funny antidotes from his 2017 book, that are enhanced by live musical segments and audience participation.

Through his collection of entertaining stories, songs and audience questions, Kay’s overall production emphases his love for the NHS and the increasingly unsustainable pressure on its staff that play out in his personal and professional descriptions. The handpicked stories from his book blur similar themes that all follow the absurd compromises that the job entails. Keeping him overworked, unbalanced, while sacrificing friends, family and his mental health, the feverish testimony on the erosion of the NHS is given a surprisingly sharp and comical stuffing.

Through his six years as a junior doctor Kays’ jaw-dropping exposure to mishaps and misshapen objects retrieved from the body offer a mixture of stories that unearth the gratifying, isolating and transformative qualities of the relentless role. Nine years after quitting medicine, having traded in the stethoscope for a microphone, Kay’s show continues to entertain and fight for the doctors who remain in the system. Staff who are still under fire, defying the routinely challenging work handed to them, alongside the mental pressures to constantly perform. Public sector workers are placed on a pedestal as Kay reveals the traumatising experience that made him leave the profession, with a voyeuristic insight for any audience members unaware of the unseen strains on their practitioners.

For any public sector worker, simply hearing Kay verbalised the problems is therapeutic, offering an entertaining outpour of sympathy by one ex-doctor who was able to draw an extensive show (and an upcoming sequel to this book) from his own questionable experiences. As Kay’s amusing history unearths our personal responsibility to ensure the NHS does not endure further cuts and staff shortages, Kay's final diary entry ends with a conversation with the audience, explaining how they can help. Presumably this is the only question that must have accompanied any of his previous Q&A's on tour. So, what can we do? To ensure we don’t lose our universally needed and cherished NHS, we can contact our local MP’s, use the power of social media, or even crowdfund legal challenges. But Kay simply asks for audiences to defend the institution and the people who work tirelessly to keep it afloat.

Bringing his detailed and hilarious live show to the Lowry, This is Going to Hurt is a passionate performance piece that continues to fight for the fundamental British institution of the NHS.

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