Joshua Brooks – until 25 July 2015
Greater Manchester Fringe Festival runs until 31 July
Health Under Fire is a fast-paced comedy. It could be described as Monty Python meets An Inspector Calls or somewhere in the realm of the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker spoof comedy films of the 1980s; think Airplane and The Naked Gun and you’re almost there.
Written by Nathan Smith, Health Under Fire is set in the dawn of the NHS, in 1950s Manchester. Detective Arnold Grace (Scott Hodgson) has been sent to The Manchester Royal Infirmary to uncover the mystery surrounding the regular disappearance of pharmaceutical products.
Donning a trenchcoat like a hardboiled detective, Hodgson gives a brilliantly cartoonish performance as Grace, frequently breaking the fourth wall and delivering each random, odd but hilarious one-liner. Most of the cast play multiple roles, writer and performer Smith demonstrates comic prowess playing creepy and booming Sir Rothschild and Gus, the often overlooked representative of manual labour. Andrew Knowles and Róisín McCusker give realised comedic performances in a variety of roles and James Beglin and Daniel Blake get a lot of laughs from their partnership as conjoined twins. Amidst this 60 minute rapid fire comedy there is also a serious message to ponder over – the current state of our NHS and the reason that our healthcare system first came into being.
Death by Pie adapt the space in the basement cellar of Joshua Brooks to satirise the film noir genre – clinical privacy screens, cardboard frames and doors, all succeed in deconstructing the genre much to the amusement of the Mancunian audience. The voiceovers and incidental music add further depth to this laugh-a-minute Zucker-esque parody.
Judging by the applause and laughter from the crowd on the opening night, Health Under Fire certainly hit and ricocheted off most of the audiences funny bones. This new production by Death by Pie has to be a highlight at the Greater Manchester Fringe this year and if you’re checking out Manchester or Edinburgh Fringe, you ought to get your slice of the ‘Health Under Fire’ pie too.
Health Under Fire is premiering at Joshua Brooks, part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival from 23rd – 25th July 2015 (tickets are £8.00) ahead of Edinburgh Fringe, where it is being performed at the Cafe Camino from the 8th – 29th August 2015 (FREE).