By Estevez Gillespie
Directed and Produced by Steve Wakeem
City Gallery Theatre,
February 22–24 & March 1–3
A stainless steel examination table sat near the centre of the white makeshift stage. The body bag lying on the table led to my friend and I making bets as to whether it was a grey-haired mannequin inside or a real person. I lost (two dollars) when a student walked in from the back and nervously tried to straighten the (real) woman’s head – with little success. The play had begun.
This is Not a Medical Satire consists of four warped scenes revolving around a side of the medical profession we don’t normally see. First, the audience becomes the class of smooth-talking gynaecologist-turned-endocrinologist Dr Onasis (Estevez Gillespie). Unlike any lecturers you’d know, he encouraged two of his students to perform sex changes on patients while thinking about how God creates breasts like no other (particularly those belonging to his childhood friend’s mother).
The second scene was an American infomercial gone wrong. Dr Sam Wilkin (Gillespie again) hosts “Gynaecological Chapel,” where he and his nurse (Jean Slobbe) remove Satan from a woman’s ovaries. If the audience hadn’t squirmed enough at the large tumour retrieved during surgery, they sure did when a discussion about the female period began. Apparently blood syphoning is the way to fulfil “God’s Prescription” if a woman hasn’t ever had her period. Even his faithful nurse looked uneasy.
The next scene brought us into a GP’s examination room. Dr Geelan (Bonnie Stanway) was due to see a patient with a bung leg. Her diagnosis, based on the works of Pythagoras, was that listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony in C Minor was very harmful, giving a prescription of her own composition to counteract the ailment. A lawyer stood to each side of the audience arguing the cases for and against Geelan’s practices. This aspect seemed a bit out of place and I started to lose interest near the end.
The final scene brought us back to life as we looked in on a job interview for the Head Amputation Surgeon position. The applicant: Dr Henshaw, himself an amputee (Gillespie again). He listed his credentials, which include the amputation, at age six, of his own arm when it got stuck in a vending machine. He used a pocket knife. The two highlights of the show were in this scene. One of them was the trailer of German porn star, Heinz Schmidt, and his five penises, made possible by the work of Dr Henshaw (the guy uses a latex glove for protection!).
And the other was the random outburst of a robot dance to ‘Invisible Man’ by Queen. Brilliant. To wrap up the scene, Dr Henshaw kills his potential employer as an act of revenge with a metallic gold drill. The play was stitched up with the small cast delivering a varied style of ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ while staring into the audience.
In this production, actions spoke louder than words, especially in the minor roles. The side-kick nurse was a particular standout. But it all seemed a little over-rehearsed: some of the scenes and jokes went on for a tad longer than necessary. The puns were rife but always guaranteed a chuckle. I would say This is Not a Medical Satire is not something for everybody’s tastes, and definitely not the faint hearted.