This is going to hurt… but it’s worth it!

Nguyễn Minh Phương watches Adam Kay's show 'This is Going to Hurt’.

Most people associate theatre with a world of fantasy, and they are not wrong, especially when you look at musicals – they are often fantastically joyful, colourful, magical and dreamy. They allow you to temporarily escape the grey of daily life. But occasionally you encounter a piece of work that makes you stop what you’re doing and ponder deeply. For me it was the show ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay. The harsh reality of healthcare systems is an ongoing issue globally, and Kay, with his past experience of Junior Doctor training, gave a brutally funny, heart-breaking and spot-on depiction of what working in the NHS is like. He skilfully combined gruesome reflection of his clinical cases (leaving some viewers a little squeamish!) together with witty and cracking banter that enthralled the audience throughout the whole performance. On top of that, there was even some audience interaction such as joining him in funny, inappropriate renditions of known songs.

I heartily laughed at his jokes whilst also understanding the pain hidden beneath his words as I myself work in a hospital and have witnessed first-hand what doctors, surgeons, consultants, nurses and/or paramedics face every single day. Despite leaving the medical profession years ago, Kay was clearly still very affected by his last case that ultimately made him change his calling. The slight tremble in his voice as he spoke about it did not go unnoticed. We all felt for him and his struggle, and saw the courage it took to tell us his story; a story that is similar to too many people working in the medical profession. His last speech was deeply moving, and it had the serious, necessary tone to deliver the message: a message that surely stuck with many people who attended his play.

The performance resonated with me. I highly recommend Kay's work in order to better understand why doctors strike – it’s never about money, it’s all about being able to give the best care possible to patients. So please don’t believe everything the media tells you; go and talk to real people, listen and hear them out, because their voice matters; they care about you and it is high time you cared about them too.

‘This is Going to Hurt’ is touring until June 2020.

Reviewed by Nguyễn Minh Phương
PhD student in Medical Science
King's College Hospital, London

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