As we head towards another annual winter crisis for the over-stretched NHS, new play Blood Orange, written and performed by Tania Amsel, explores the extra pressures heaped on junior doctors at Christmastime. It runs at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre from 10 December 2019 to 4 January 2020, with a press night on 12 December.
“My next patient is… Santa, smelling strongly of booze, he attempted to climb down a chimney, safe to say it didn’t go to plan…”
It’s Christmas Eve in Swansea A&E and Amy has just vomited all over a hot doctor’s shoes. Amy is not a patient at the hospital, she’s a Junior Doctor… Hoping to secure a transfer to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Amy can handle the long hours, the overtime, and even the shame of vomiting on her colleague’s shoes. But when assigned to the case of a boy with cancer, Amy is confronted with childhood memories she thought she’d forgotten and the pressure begins to take its toll. When helping others is at the heart of your career, what happens when you are suddenly the one who needs help?
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I became fascinated with poking holes in oranges to see if blood would come out…”
Blood Orange is a new one-woman play that explores themes of love, loss and childhood trauma with pathos, dry wit, and a twist of dark comedy. It was researched with doctors and medical staff, looking at how their workload creates stress in a medical context and, added to that, how caring for patients emotionally often takes priority over personal well-being.
Author Tania Amsel plays Amy in Blood Orange, which is directed by Hamish MacDougall, with lighting by Jamie Platt and sound by Dong Tingying. It’s produced by Ameena Hamid and Tom Dixon.
The play brings the life of junior doctors in A&E over the holiday season to light. Character Amy is an example of thousands of trainee doctors working in the NHS – and by making her story personal and relatable, the audience can join in Amy’s journey exploring her past, which is inextricably linked to her stressful life in a hospital A&E department, and what the future may look like.
In 2016, junior doctors in England took part in widespread general strikes, the first such industrial action in 40 years, protesting new contracts that they argued led to longer, unsafe working hours and overtime pay reductions. Three years on, pressure continues to mount. In the General Medical Council’s 2019 annual training survey, a quarter of junior doctors said their job leaves them burnt out to a high or very high degree.
Blood Orange is supporting the Great Ormond Street Hospital, by raising awareness of childhood cancer, and also mental health charity SANE, raising awareness of the impact of staff’s mental health in a busy hospital. There will be post-show Q&As with the charities, tackling the play’s themes, on 17 December and 3 January.
Playwright and performer Tania Amsel has written for the Tron Theatre Glasgow and Women@RADA. She has performed in Bloody Men (Arcola Theatre), Just To Get Married (Finborough), Chatroom (Etcetera Theatre), At War With Love (Edinburgh Fringe), Lollipop (Monologue Slam), The Dance Hall (Blue Elephant), Never Have I Ever (Arcola), and Exchange & Mart (BAFTA-winning short film).
Blood Orange runs from 10 December 2019 to 4 January 2020 at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John St, Islington, London EC1V 4NJ with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve), matinees on Saturdays, plus Sunday 22 December, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve at 2.30pm. Tickets priced £10-16. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
If you didn’t get to see enough fireworks 🎇 last night, just look at our pretty moving poster & takes a few minute to look at our kickstarter! Any donation it so so important to make this show actually happen 🙏😘 https://t.co/2mVtWNZeVL pic.twitter.com/HxMXD9a6qO
— Blood Orange at The Old Red Lion (@bloodorangeshow) November 3, 2019