This Might Not Be It

Lots of people will know the Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush, London. Just a stones throw away from Shepherd’s Bush Market. Few will appreciate the rich history and vast number of groundbreaking productions premiered since 1972. Nurturing the careers of world-renowned actors and writers like Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The current production of ‘This Might Not Be It’ is no different, written by former Bush Emerging Writers’ Group member Sophia Chetin-Leuner. The show confronts hard truths of our crumbling NHS mental health services. Nominated for Women’s Prize for Playwriting and extended until 7th March due to popular demand.

As the audience arrive, the show begins and we come across a small, intimate office space, with papers stacked high over desks. Angela (Debra Baker) is typing away at a computer, suddenly the phone rings. Hastily rummaging through vast stacks of papers on her desk, searching for the correct file, we quickly determine a sarcastic, passive-aggressive undertone from the outset. 

Being an intimate 60-seater venue, the performance space accurately demonstrates a typical office environment, two desks crammed in, both covered with papers, stacked high like a fort, a waiting room with scattered kids’ drawings and toys and leaflets on the wall. We are introduced to the NHS Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), 4th floor outpatient facility.

Almost immediately we meet Jay (Denzel Baidoo). Entering full of life, with little more than a houseplant and plans to change a broken system, willing to bend the rules in an effort to help patients, with often painful results. Angela has seen and experienced everything in the 30 years working in the NHS. Nothing surprises or intimidates her, until a new infuriating young temp enters, desperate to prove his worth and challenge her every move. The storyline develops at rapid pace through the 90-minute production, twists, unexpected turns and a beautifully crafted powerplay visible between Angela and Jay. Both desperately trying to show their worth. Angela keen to prove experience, the ‘old fashioned way’ is best and Jay attempting to change, bring fresh ideas but met with a sense of disdain.

Sophia Chetin-Leuner (Writer) and Ed Madden (Director) capture both characters beautifully. Skilfully navigating the struggles of a crumbling NHS service, with the daily battles of working in the NHS mental health service. Denzel Baidoo and Debra Baker seamlessly portray administrators desperately trying to persevere with the stress and struggles of working in the NHS. While beautifully illustrating their loving, caring and passionate personalities, patients are put first and they will go above and beyond to meet their needs. We are also introduced to Beth, delightfully portrayed by Dolly Web, a child patient within the service, struggling to cope, desperately seeking help. Soon to reach 18, Beth has been transferred numerous occasions and beginning to give up hope. The trio masterfully capture the audience with gripping storytelling, particularly as the production dramatically twists and turns towards an exciting conclusion.

If you only get chance to see one show this year, choose this one. Easily one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen for a long time. I encourage everyone to watch, you will not be disappointed.

This show was reviewed on Monday 5th February 2024. This Might Not Be It runs at Bush Theatre, London until Wednesday 7th March 2024. Tickets available here https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/this-might-not-be-it/

Reviewed written by Stuart Midwinter

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Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

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