ADAM KAY: FINGERING A MINOR ON THE PIANO – Soho Theatre

In Comedy, Opinion, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Soho Theatre, London – until 7 June 2017

“I’m like a medical Anne Frank.”

The title of Fingering A Minor On The Piano apparently stems from former doctor turned comic Adam Kay trying to ensure that none of Nicholas Parsons‘ audience stayed on to watch the show when the two were programmed back-to-back at Edinburgh last year. It gives nothing away about what the show actually is, a fast-paced hour of journal readings from Kay’s hospital diary interspersed with musical punchlines, building to a gut-punch of a climax that flies the flag for our beleaguered NHS.

It’s a strong combination – there’s endless dark humour in the snippets of life as a medical professional, climbing the ranks from inexperienced house officer to registrar in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, as he deals with any number of complaints from eye-wincing penis injuries to spots on the tongue (taste buds!) whilst acknowledging the strains it puts on trainee doctors with their 16 hour days and the struggles it imposes on trying to maintain a normal life and relationship at the same time.

The increasingly sad array of missed dinner dates, Christmases and parties, alongside the infinite patience that comes with being part of the NHS, are balanced with his repurposed musical sketches which allows Kay to vary the mood as he works any condition you’ve heard of into pop songs (‘The Girl With Emphysema’, ‘Wheezy (like Sunday morning)’), ranging from the benign to the truly caustic, with some audience participation testing our own medical knowledge thrown in there for good measure.

But for all the laughter, it is the final moments of the show that linger longest in the memory. Kay stops trying to make us laugh or keep us entertained and instead relates the heart-breaking case that resulted in him abandoning his career as a doctor. It’s a scorchingly honest and emotional moment and one which gains more power as Kay turns his laser gaze onto Jeremy Hunt’s dishonourable behaviour around junior doctors and the government’s treatment of the NHS in general, making a mockery of claims that doctors are in it for the money and reminding us all just how precious a resource our NHS is. Fiercely effective, highly recommended.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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