Written and directed by Sam Freeman
, Hope Place
30th May 2012
Floating is a one-woman show that highlights the plight of an NHS nurse,
played wonderfully by Susannah Freeman. She talks to the audience about
dealing with death and loss every day, she explains how there are many
different faces to grief, how each person copes with losing a loved one
in a different way, but that as a nurse she can see the similarities.
She talks about how it’s surprising that she finds sometimes an
80-year-old woman deals with it better and appears stronger than a young
man. She kindly and compassionately states that she understands the anger
directed at her in those upsetting situations and how she tries not to
take it personally. She talks about floating; both the patients and the
nurses in an endless, timeless hospital were the outside world doesn’t
The brightening and lowering of the lights to depict changes in the mood
was beautifully executed as she explained that the constant care has to
affect them, after all, nurses are only human. As she talked about her
patients being in pain and clutching at her hand, the anguish is etched
on her face. She swiftly moves away from that with jokes about her ability
to sum up her day by the number of chocolate wrappers in her handbag.
She cleverly shows the difference in patients and how easily tempers can
be frayed and how although she tries not to take her work home, it inevitably
impacts her life outside of the hospital.
She touches on the comparisons between our NHS system and the health
insurance schemes in America, and this is where I think the play excelled,
for all its faults, the NHS is a massively undervalued system, and in
a matter of sentences she sums up wonderfully how lucky we are that we
have free healthcare.
This was Sam Freeman’s first serious play, as well as both his
and Susannah’s first one-woman play. His intention to show how the
worst of humanity is often highlighted and broadcast for all to see whilst
the quiet, humble and beautiful moments within humanity are often ignored
was strikingly illustrated. Towards the end, Freeman manages to show how
much one person matters. How a person might die alone, if not for a nurse
willing to hold their hand. Everyone deserves more than to die alone and
in the end all that matters are people and the connections you make with
them. Susannah laughs at the end by telling us so many people ask in disgust
how she can possibly be a nurse. She answers by asking them how they can
possibly do anything else.
Freeman’s success is in his understated simplicity, a complex character
and a glimpse into a familiar subject from a different angle. Overall
a moving, beautiful, thought provoking play which sparked nothing but
conversation the whole way home.