The Greatest Wealth: Choice & Control at the Old Vic Online
If there’s one thing the coronavirus crisis has taught us, it’s that we owe a massive debt to the NHS. Without the NHS and its fantastic staff, things may well have taken a much bleaker turn than they already – and inevitably – have.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Old Vic is streaming their 2018 series The Greatest Wealth – a collage of short monologues performed for the 70-year celebration of the NHS. Curated by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Adrian Lester, they provide a well-rounded, humorous and insightful portrayal of the NHS and its history, and, as such, are a beautiful homage.
Choice & Control – written by Matilda Ibini and performed by Ruth Madeley – is a brilliant celebration of the opportunities the NHS provides to wheelchair users. With plenty of wit and some moving details, it gives us a strong insight into the tremendous difference the NHS can make in the lives of the handicapped.
The roughly 18-minute-long monologue consists largely of Madeley narrating some of the experiences she has had with the wheelchair she received for free – a wheelchair that would otherwise require her to take out a loan. Madeley’s performance is stellar: with great finesse and excellent comedic timing, she oozes incredible charm.
The premise of the piece is simple and powerful; the attitudes and language used towards wheelchair users are usually shrouded in negativity, but according to Madeley, owning a wheelchair is actually an uplifting, empowering feeling; it’s an asset which provides agency to people with a physical disability. As the title suggests, it offers the disabled both choice and control, rather than leaving them at the mercy of their handicap.
The production itself is suitably simple. There are no props nor stage design, so the entire focus is on the actor, which is very refreshing and generally works very well.
Much like all the other The Greatest Wealth episodes, Choice & Control is a powerful and important play that highlights both the struggles of different types of people and emphasises the important part the NHS plays in helping those in need.
The Greatest Wealth: Choice & Control is available to watch from 25th June 2020. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Choice & Control here: