Drip Drip Drip deals with the issues of immigration and racism and how they affect the NHS. The play brings together three different experiences. It describes the journey of two brothers from Eritrea seeking asylum, one of whom reaches the UK and starts to train in the NHS; a Muslim doctor born in London; and their patient, a disgraced former academic who was stripped of his titles for his racist views. The use of a hospital for the setting of this production means that the personal and the political are completely entwined, and shows how deeply these issues become ingrained in all aspects of life.
This production, written by Jon Welch, cleverly avoids any stereotypes, and has clearly been written with great awareness of the subject. One of the best examples of this thoughtfulness is not even in the play itself. On the back of the programme, the writer explains the nationality and background of the two brothers, making sure to maintain the historical, factual foundations of the production while also making use of the language shared by the two actors. This detail shows the care that as been taken to make this production as realistic and faithful to real life as possible. The production uses the different experiences of the characters in a variety of ways, breaking away from the stereotypical characterisations. Daniel, who just completed a difficult journey from Eritrea to work in the UK, is shown as upbeat and optimistic, joyfully learning as much English as he can and making the most of new cultural experiences. On the other hand Rahmiya, who has a more secure living situation as an oncologist, suffers more with casual racism, as well as with sexism.
The production is staged in a way that allows these different stories to be told simultaneously, directly contrasting David’s illness in the hospital with the struggles of Daniel’s brother left behind in France. The use of a hospital bed and what looks like a supermarket stocking trolley allows for versatility, and the performance makes use of these props with lighting and sound as well as being structures for the actors to use, they form some key part of every scene. The audiovisual elements are used sparingly but effectively, to subtitle the Amharic spoken by Daniel and his brother, as well as adding effects to certain scenes. The lighting and sound does not overwhelm the more mundane, daily life of the hospital, but adds depth to the more dramatic scenes and historical weight where necessary.
Despite the serious issues that are dealt with, Drip Drip Drip still manages to be funny. It provides a commentary on the more bureaucratic and day-to-day elements of the NHS, as well as on British society today. The audience can’t help but be charmed by Michael Workeye’s boundless enthusiasm, and everyone can relate to the dry exchanges between Lydia Bakelmun and Alan Munden, perfectly illustrating modern working life. David Keller simultaneously provokes sympathy, anger and shame in the audience in his role as David, portraying a character that most people will have encountered in some form or another. This play is painfully relevant, hitting very close to home after recent political developments. Welch is not shy in his criticism of NHS cuts, or in exploring the human costs of political decisions. This show calls preconceived ideas into question and it is entertaining while still challenging how we think.