The groove which Mark Thomas has hit with his run of first-person theatrical storytelling shows has really caught the essence of the Fringe. Blending comedy, theatre, politics and a warm sense of audience inclusivity, he makes shows that are unafraid to challenge expectations. Check Up: Our NHS @ 70 is Thomas on fine form, using his skill as a theatre-maker and passion for a truly up-to-the-minute topic to create a riveting piece of work.
“I was born in the NHS, and I’ll most likely die in it,” he tells us, affirming his positive sense that the National Health Service isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Yet the NHS has been badly wounded in recent years – through interviews with high profile figures which he relates or plays back here, Thomas lays out exactly why that is.
The very short answer, which he fleshes out with consummate storytelling flair, is a combination of marketisation of health delivery; budget cuts in areas like social care, with the NHS left to take up the slack; and a sloppy lack of industry regulation leading to air pollution and obesity.
Yet not all of the blame can be passed upwards, and Thomas’s clear-sightedness becomes apparent when he shares the blame around. If we want to live longer, and more healthily, our own tax money is what must pay for this. It is, after all, our NHS.