A small waiting room,
a broken family,
a life-changing decision.
Inspired by first-hand accounts, The Messenger is award-winning Limbik Theatre’s new show about nurses involved in organ donation.
It’s a wet Monday night on an ITU ward in London, and the pressure for beds is growing. The clock is ticking, but time has come to a standstill for the Greene family, as they struggle to make the most difficult decision of their lives.
With stunning movement, dark comedy and live music, The Messenger reveals a fascinating world that stretches the membrane of life, asking what is death and why can’t we bring ourselves to talk about it until it is too late.
Imagine rolling a hand grenade into a hospital room crowded with emotionally volatile people. The thirty second delay before that grenade explodes is, dramatically, the time The Messenger unfolds.
SN-OD is a terrible acronym for an amazing, gut-wrenching job: Specialist Nurse – Organ Donation. The time when a shell-shocked family is processing the fact that their loved one is going to die is also the window of opportunity for these nurses to try to obtain consent for cutting open the still warm body, retrieving their vital organs, and saving others’ lives. They are hostage negotiator, salesman, therapist, and road logistics manager, rolled into one.
The Messenger tells the story of the Greene family as they are faced with the most difficult decision of their lives. Should Adam, son, brother, lover to Maggie, William and Charlotte become an organ donor? Facilitating the process is Jessica, the SN-OD and Ronke, a Nigerian ITU nurse who is responsible for Adam’s care. Death itself stalks the corridors in the guise of three hospital cleaners, on zero hour contracts, eavesdropping on the hidden thoughts and fears of family and staff. They hear stuff others can’t. The subcutaneous beating of blood. The rhythm of dripfeed. They tune into the secret frequencies of the ITU ward, and travel at the speed of light down the veins and capillaries of the near dead, waiting for their moment to claim them. And they speak as a chorus.
The show has been created through a collaboration between theatre makers, nurses, doctors and an medical ethicist. The story is inspired by interviews with the nurses themselves. It dances between fact and fiction. Between poetry and stark medical imagery. It plays with the audience’s perspective, asking them to imagine themselves inside a dying man’s brain, his body, and inside that waiting room listening to the voices of countless messengers.
It is also a show that leaves audiences wanting to talk. In collaboration with our immediate team of medical and ethical specialists, as well as NHS Blood and Transplant, we will run post-show panel discussions after every performance, allowing the audience to ask questions about what they have seen, reflect on their own experiences and consider what they would do in a similar situation.
Download The Messenger Tour Pack here.