THERE was as much love for Dr Phil Hammond as there was for the National Health Service when the stand-up doctor brought his show Happy Birthday NHS to Bromsgrove’s Artrix.
The concept is both clever and hilarious – Dr Phil enlists the help of the audience and suggestions from crowds on previous shows to formulate a plan to save our beloved NHS.
First allocating a scribe to record the plan he then reads out the suggestions and gets the audience to vote yea or nay in a light-hearted bid to manufacture a manifesto to ensure the NHS will survive for another 70 years.
From using bunk beds on wards to solve the bed crisis to making it law for Government ministers to forfeit their private healthcare so they can be treated in the country’s worst performing hospitals, the suggestions were far-reaching.
And, while the plan is being put together, it is interspersed with the doctor’s personal laugh out loud anecdotes from his life as a physician and facts about the National Health Service and how it came to be.
This interesting strand, conveyed by the clearly passionate and knowledgeable Dr Phil, means you also have the unexpected bonus of leaving the auditorium knowing more about the NHS and its history than you ever did.
At either ends of the scale there are also pantomime elements – booing former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and cheering NHS creator Nye Bevan – and a serious ‘here and now’ element to the show about what we can do to improve our health.
From getting more sleep to looking after ourselves and each other (including the importance of support groups and being open about life and death), Dr Phil’s observations (no pun intended) also makes for very thought-provoking theatre.
They say ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Bearing that in mind, this show should be available on prescription.
It may not go as far as cutting NHS waiting times but you will feel a whole lot better having seen it.
Visit drphilhammond.com for more on the tour.
He next returns to the county on October 26 when he performs at Huntington Hall.
The show is well worth an examination. Call 01905 611427 for more information and tickets.