Bed Seven, Tristan Bates Theatre

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By Meredith Jones Russell

In 1953, nurse Patricia ‘Noisy’ Voisey and Gerald meet in Kings College Hospital in London when Gerald is admitted for a long stay in bed seven. Across the class divide, they form a firm friendship which turns to love.

It’s a sweet if slight story, based on debut playwright Simon de Cinta’s own parents. The message is clearly that background and circumstances can be easily overcome by love, and as such it’s warm and enjoyable.

At just 50 minutes, it’s a short play, but one that doesn’t really have enough complexity to fill even this brief running time satisfactorily. Occasional attempts to weave in comments on developing technology and healthcare are self-conscious and clunky, and beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a lot more to it.

It’s strangely dated in its characterisation too. The Pygmalion-style relationship between diamond in the rough, inarticulate but big-hearted nurse Voisey and the Latin-speaking, classic-quoting Trinity graduate Gerald is frustratingly one-dimensional, and not entirely successful in delivering the message of ‘female empowerment’ the show’s publicity claims.

All in all a perfectly pleasant piece, full of heart and not quite dead on arrival, but undoubtedly requiring an injection of depth to achieve a clean bill of health.

Bed Seven runs through 23 November in London.

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