Mark Murphy’s Out of This World is billed as “genre-defying action packed theatre”— but I wonder if it is also trying to give a patients eye view of CPR / ICU?
I watched Mark Murphy and VTOL decades ago, when they first mixed dance and film: and remember how entrancing it was to see people dancing with projected versions of themselves, and with film back-projected to look like someone was falling — or were they pushed? — out of a very tall building.
I knew Mark was bound to have thought up something very different. And so he has for Out of this World.
The storyline is based on a car crash — a woman, we quickly realise, is put in a medically induced coma, and her new husband ends up brain dead. There’s what looks like a fair few professionals looming over the victim/survivor. With views in the middle of above from someone who is, presumably, nearly dying.
Although the story is supposed to be about love, I couldn’t get too interested in that element. It’s not only me who felt like that — see the Guardian review here.
But the technical parts of the show are amazing. People walk up — and down — walls in the smoothest of ways. Look at the rehearsal footage above to get an idea of the mouthdropping aerial work. The nightmare of the coma / memories of the crash / the scan(s) is all definitely nightmarish.
The representations of resuscitation / CPR blend eery accuracy (the doctor’s words) with unsettling images of what it might be like — or maybe it is like? — from inside the head of a patient.
I avoid watching Holby City / Casualty etc since they never seem very life-like to me. But the words and tone here were just like the ED/A&E Department I (relatively!) recently worked in. So it seems like V-Tol took careful notice of their Medical Research Consultants: an anaesthetist who also leads an air and land ambulance service, and two neurosurgeons.
I want to ask two questions.
First, although all the medical words felt impressively real to me, most of this went over the head of the super-intelligent non-medical friend I went with. Has the non-medical public seen so much of the soap stereotypes that they can’t see beyond them? Is this one of the reasons why the public still have such wildly optimistic ideas about CPR success?
Secondly, the visuals here sucked me into a patients-eye view. Maybe the anaesthetist/neurosurgeons know what it’s like for this sort of patient? Though presumably not for the patients who die? I have myself shared rare stories from relatives involved in CPR — see here and here. But while doctors (relatively) frequently talk about broken ribs and bruised mouths with CPR, I don’t know of any patient openly talking about what CPR is like. The ones who live are grateful, of course. Presumably the experience is too short for the sort of PTSD that is increasingly recognised for ICU survivors?
The official 1 minute trailer for Out of this World is here
But I think the rehearsal footage is more fun – more aerial, more extreme – and gives a better idea of what I think are the best bits.