With clinical honesty, jabs of piercing humour and medicinal surrealism, This May Hurt a Bit is a frank theatrical diagnosis exposing the slights committed on a wounded institution.
Founder of the NHS Bevan strides into view for the birth of his social creation in 1948. He is chastised by the BMA but vows to ‘put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration’.
Fast forward to 2011 and Cameron picks up the scalpel from his predecessors for the latest ‘reorganisation’ - again derided by the BMA and many more.
The effects of successive Government policies unfold as a politically divided family - representing the left and right - navigate the labyrinth of the healthcare system.
Pensioner Iris and her sparring son and daughter encounter an under-staffed hospital with mixed sex wards, ceilings stained with blood and where balancing the budget is the top priority of the board of directors.
But then they witness the flip side with harried but compassionate clinicians determined to do good and save lives.
This is a powerful, inspiring and entertaining piece of theatre by Stellah Feehily and Max Stafford-Clark - gliding between raw political commentary, human poignancy and laugh-out-loud comedy which veers to the delightfully surreal.
Asking the audience at one point ‘why aren’t you angry?’, the play is earnest in its message about what is happening to the NHS and what it sees as the need to fight for this very public service.
This May Hurt a Bit is at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, until March 15.