Jargon by Open Theatre is a hilarious piece of new writing by Kieran Bose Rosling, showing this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the Banham Theatre. Rosling’s experience as a medical student brought this play to life, as the dialogue is littered with accurate medical terminology used to comic effect. The age-old adage, ‘write what you know’, in this case, rings true.
Jargon managed to meld character-driven story with medical drama, not an easy feat to accomplish on stage. The bashful medical student, Jo Bailey (Chloe Arrowsmith), shadows a surgery only to discover the chaos that lies within the operating theatre. Head Surgeon Charles Sweetey (Joe Fenna) uses his learned arrogance to disrupt a kidney removal – Blackadder fans can simply refer to him as ‘Sweetie’ – while a burgeoning romance develops between Callum (Spike Woodley) and Brenda (Niamh Creavin). The social commentary weaved throughout the play was nuanced, poking fun at the current crisis in the NHS and bed shortages without being overly facetious.
The standout performance was given by Spike Woodley, who carried the nonchalant details of his character well. On top of this, Rachel Parkinson, playing Jess, and Chloe Arrowsmith, both gave excellent performances. At times, one certainly felt as if sitting behind a glass screen, looking into a Casualty-esque TV drama. The set successfully created this illusion, imitating the clinical environment of an operating theatre by transforming the Banham Theatre with clever lighting and set design.
At times it seemed that comic moments in the script were lost in the performance. The blocking and direction needed a little bit of fine-tuning to accentuate some of the wry humour between many lines. The pacing could have been better in these places, and perhaps some of the larger-than-life characters could have given their delivery a little more impact. For example, as two characters maintained an argument purely with the use of medical and non-medical acronyms, the intended humour fell a little flat.
Overall, Jargon is well-crafted piece of new writing that is grounded in Rosling’s own experience. I’m excited to see what project Rosling will put his pen to next.
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