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Dying to Help - Free
Published on Thursday, 25 August 2011

3 stars

Jenny Ha's
6-14, 16-27 Aug, 6:00pm-6:45pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

This is a sweet and funny show by actor Lesley Evans, based on her unusual day job – pretending to have cancer at training sessions for medical professionals. Before we go further, let's clarify that, yes, she’s already heard the one about role-play with nurses.

Evans is a confident and charismatic performer. She skewers the bumptious training manager she works with, and wryly lets us know that she has experienced certain types of doctor too many times. The fascinating gem at the heart of Evan’s show is a glimpse into a hidden world: doctors with their metaphorical trousers down, learning how to break news about testicular cancer. It’s a weird and nastily wonderful world.

Evans also introduces us to her parents, imitating them and enacting various conversations with her mother. This works much less well, though. Stories about the eccentricities of annoying parents are ten a penny, and Evans' particular parents weren’t annoying enough to make them stand out.

The ending feels very abrupt, and to be honest, this show lacks momentum or any kind of narrative through line. Evans shows us a glimpse of a bizarre bad-taste wonderland that she could take us to – but she keeps steering off the track. I ended up wishing she’d just let the real core of the show shine as it could.

When Evans talks about her work the show is wonderful, but the wider life-story sections just weren’t funny enough, and sometimes felt like padding.

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