Nursey – Smock Alley – Review
by Frank L.
Nursey – Written and performed by Aoife Martin
Mon 9 – Sat 14 May – Boys’ School, Smock Alley
This is a new production from No Desserts Theatre which in its comparatively short existence has been responsible for 48 (2019) and This is not a Cult (2019) and now, post Covid, has returned with a one-hander written and performed by one of its founders, Aoife Martin.
She is the eponymous Nursey and she takes us through her life beginning in the West of Ireland, living with her devoted mother and oh-so-proud father. Remarkably they named her “Nursey” and rather than rebel against the name she saw nursing from an early age as her calling. She even held surgeries in the playground! A huge influence from the beginning was Florence Nightingale whom she represents in a beatified state and calls upon her regularly for guidance and advice in relation to her dream of becoming a nurse. Eventually, she must leave home in order to work in her chosen profession and she departs by train for Dublin. Her relationship with Florence Nightingale alters as she discovers the practical challenges of her vocation. Florence Nightingale operated at a different time.
The set is simple, it consists of two screens at right angles which resemble the curtains around a hospital bed. Nursey is attired as a traditional nurse in an all-white scrub dress together with a headdress keeping her small bun neat and tidy. She wears an unflattering pair of sensible white shoes. She looked the part of a dedicated professional nurse.
In the course of its seventy-five minutes duration, Martin not only describes her parents, but she also depicts her sister trainee nurse on the stroke ward, various senior nurses in authority and a priest with a soft voice, so as to bring them alive as individuals who are out of the ordinary. They are a varied collection of characters with delightful eccentricities and absurdities. It is fun to meet so many in such a short space of time.
Martin, who is also a qualified nurse and works predominantly in addiction services, developed this piece over the last two years with Malaprop Theatre and the Abbey Theatre. It takes courage to create a comedy in a place as challenging as a stroke ward. Martin, due to her knowledge of her subject matter, does so with compassion and love without ever holding back on the comic element. She has created a ray of sunshine in a dark place. In these difficult times, it is a cheering piece. There were many smiles on the faces of those who left the auditorium.
Running time 75 mins
WRITTEN BY Aoife Martyn
DIRECTED BY Clare Maguire
SET DESIGN BY Sinead Purcell
SOUND DESIGN BY Shell Dooley
PRODUCED BY Ali Fox
VIDEOGRAPHY/PHOTOGRAPHY/POSTER DESIGN BY Sadhbh McLoughlin