Fully sick with potential

The Performing Nurse

QUT, The Loft

November 5 – 6

The premise of “The Performing Nurse” is an engaging one: Registered Nurse and Midwife Lisa Smith presents a comic and colourful insight into the world nursing. Ultimately however, it’s a promise of potential that is not consistently realised.

The hour-long one-woman show, fresh from the festival circuit, begins with Lisa taking stage in character as the no-nonsense Nurse Bay Maree. While much of her dry humour is funny enough to have some audience members in hysterics, it soon wears thin as reliance on repetition of the one joke of exaggeration of words detracts from the segment’s cohesion. Indeed, there seems to be some identity confusion as the audience is repeatedly reminded of its Workplace Health and Safety meeting, despite delivery being more of a lecture in the Art of Nursing.

bay marie

Direction appears leisurely throughout as threads are sometimes left dangling as the audience is taken from Bay Maree to Lisa herself via a ‘Skype’ video segment from midwife Jan (Just A Nurse….pre-recoded by Smith in role) moaning about mandatory training. While the characterisation nurtures Smith’s talent, however, there are moments when IT needs to be more seamless in its integration.


Far from its comic outset, Smith finishes the show as herself, sharing observations from her over-20-years in the industry and reminder of the humanity at the core of its professionals, including delivery of Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’ to make audiences think of the vocation’s visceral nature and the need to care for the carer.

Although not yet quite #fullysick, “The Performing Nurse” is surely on its way to a wider appeal than that which comes naturally to those in the nursing industry, able to full appreciate the satire of inner hospital workings and complexities of roles and ranks. Still, to have created a piece inclusive of moments able to speak to so many audience members and facilitate an emotional audience context is surely no mean feat and the work is set to go from future strength to strength.

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