The Human Body

The Donmar Warehouse provides the perfect stage for this intimate, cinematic piece. Iris Elcock (Keeley Hawes), a Shropshire based doctor and campaigning Labour party Councillor struggles in her marriage to Julian Elcock (Tom Goodman-Hill), a wounded war veteran. We see a blossoming relationship form between Iris and black and white picture actor George Blythe (Jack Davenport) who is also married. Keeley Hawes is simply magnificent in this role. We watch her struggle in every part of her life, balancing a career and a family but also being in love. She gives an incredible performance.

The piece is fast paced, set on a revolve so you never miss anything. I love the basic blue set and props paying homage to the NHS, this was a nice contrast to the grey costumes linking the piece back to the war. The use of music to enhance the romantic Hollywood movie style helped set the scene. There is a clever use of multimedia projections to portray the black and white love story. The use of live camera footage projected up on the wall shows the two leads growing closer, although in some instances this became distracting. There is great chemistry between the two leads and Jack Davenport is perfect as the handsome jobbing Hollywood actor. As the pair draw close you can feel the anticipation in the auditorium, at times you could literally hear a pin drop.

Pearl Mackie and Siobhan Redman do a great job multi rolling around the central characters to keep the story moving and they are amazing at this, some truly standout performances, each character individual and unique. This play is perfectly cast and a huge congratulations to the whole team behind it. The costume changes are slick, the set changes are seamless and the stage crew has a real job on their hands with set changes. They are very much part of the action and pull this off.

Great quirky opening to act two, lots of great one liners. Although some of the humour is light the piece keeps drawing back to the main theme, historically women have never had the chance to pursue everything they wanted even though it’s within their reach because of society. Watching a play that is written now about a woman’s journey in the 1940’s was really refreshing as her life fell apart she then had to frontier the biggest national government lead system of all time, the NHS.

This show was reviewed on the 27th February 2024 at the Donmar Warehouse where it runs until the 13th April 2024.  Tickets available here: THE HUMAN BODY | Donmar Warehouse

Review written by Sam Sadler

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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