Stella Feehily's play This May Hurt A Bit is a satirical exploration of the state of Britain's National Health Service, though the experiences of one family and its journey through the system. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmonds, on 6 March 2014, in an Out of Joint/Octagon Theatre, Bolton, co-production, before touring the UK.
The play opens with a 1948 speech by Aneurin Bevan, founding father of the NHS, on the difficulties of establishing the health service in the face of opposition from the British Medical Association. It then cuts to March 2011, and the Prime Minister is seeking advice from a senior civil servant on the shortcomings of the government's Health and Social Care Bill, which proposes a fundamental, top-down restructuring of the health service. We then meet Nicholas James, a widower who, in 2014, is diagnosed with prostate problems and then subjected to delayed check-ups. But, unlike his snooty sister and her American surgeon-husband, Nicholas remains a passionate advocate of the NHS. When his mother, Iris, suffers an attack that turns out to be a rare case of 'transient global amnesia', she is subjected to a sojourn in the geriatric ward. There may be blood on the ceiling and a corpse behind a curtain, but there is total dedication from the harassed staff.
The Out of Joint/Octagon Theatre, Bolton, co-production was directed by Max Stafford-Clark with set and costume design by Tim Shortall. It was performed by Stephanie Cole (as Iris), Brian Protheroe (as Nicholas), Hywel Morgan, Tristram Wymark, Jane Wymark, Frances Ashman, William Hope and Natalie Klamar.