Reviewed – 11th March 2020
“it’s going to make you feel something, which is exactly what theatre should do”
Every time I see a verbatim show, I wonder why everyone isn’t doing it all the time. Beside the fact that it gives you ready-made dialogue, for some reason taking something seemingly ordinary that someone has said casually in conversation, with every mispronunciation, repetition and hesitation, and reframing it on stage immediately elevates it to excellence. This is exactly the point for Take Care, as directed by Zoe Templeman-Young, whose aim is to give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.
Everyone in the cast has either been a carer or a professional within the care work industry, and they have all seen first-hand the difficulty of giving someone the care they need, made all the more trying by over a decade of budget cuts and broken promises from the government.
We hear first-hand accounts from across the board: people in care, people taking care of family members, people taking care of strangers, nurses, safety training specialists, carer support charity workers, and so on, and whilst these accounts are interspersed with overhead snippets from lying politicians, for the most part the message is delivered with as much subtlety as possible, allowing people’s experiences to speak for themselves.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. We also hear about people’s love of caring, either for someone they know or someone they don’t, and we hear about the joy of it too. On being asked why she would want to take care of her elderly mother, one woman answers, “Old people can be fucking hilarious.”
With very little by way of production or design, besides a bunch of chairs and a few bits and pieces scattered about the stage (a cup of coffee, a lampshade, a Christmas tree), the script and performances speak for themselves. A cast of only four portrays a number of characters each, and with only the use of cravat or a jacket, they are completely transformed, embodying an entirely different person.
There is an idea that a strong argument must be made without emotion; must be entirely objective. Take Care takes quite the opposite tact, showing that personal experience is the argument. You can look at statistics and financial benefits, but at the end of the day, a government’s legislation affects real people, and they deserve to be heard.
Regardless of your political standing, this show will make you angry, either because old people and people in need have been seemingly cast aside by the government, or because you don’t think that’s the case and despite having watched a bunch of first-hand accounts, you have something different to say about it. Regardless, it’s going to make you feel something, which is exactly what theatre should do.
Reviewed by Miriam Sallon