Mark Knightley’s The Heart Of Adrian Lovett is billed as a “surreal and satirical romp through the privatisation scandal”.
The narrative is set within an operating theatre from which celebrity Adrian Lovett’s heart transplant is being televised, with tickets to the live show having been sold to devoted fans (you, the audience).
The show’s aim is to highlight issues currently facing the NHS, arguing for re-nationalisation of the service.
The show is written in collaboration with medical professionals and staged in Theatre Delicatessen’s Farringdon space. The performance takes place in a small room decked-out with medical equipment, feeling hidden and secret within such a large building, adding to the personal feeling of exclusivity at being one of the viewers of Adrian’s live operation.
The summarised Delicatessen mission statement is “supporting emerging theatremakers working at the cutting edge of theatre practice, particularly those working in non-traditional forms”. The company negotiate the use of otherwise unused buildings for use as “creative hubs”.
Throughout this small yet frantic production, attention to detail remains high. The show is augmented with projected animations and the disconnected voiceover of a television presenter. This all works together to create a great overall atmosphere.
The show’s structure feels somewhere between Brass Eye and The Thick Of It, featuring surreal set pieces and a sense of ‘involvement’ in the bureaucratic drama behind the scenes.
The show is carried by Harriet Madeley’s stalwart Doctor Stubbs and the eponymous D-list celebrity hero, played by James MacLaren. The drugs & booze loving Lovett is a carefully crafted model of insincerity and narcissism, channeling elements of Russell Brand/Nathan Barley.
At one point the performance seamlessly transitions into an audience Q&A. This proved particularly interesting due to the seemingly high number of medical practitioners in the audience (no doubt one of the purposes behind the NHS employee concession tickets).
The show also features some great sound design – I particularly enjoyed the seemingly patriotic music accompanying Adrian’s cheesy pre-op promotional videos.
Bearing in mind the subject matter and proximity to the election, I was conscious that a show with such a political agenda could be erring on sanctimonious.
However, The Heart Of Adrian Lovett manages to sidestep this with it’s wacky and dark humour – sure, the serious message is there, but the play is entertaining, informative and bizarre in its own right.