Review: Scenes for Survival - The Domestic, National Theatre Of Scotland

Scenes for Survival is a project from The National Theatre of Scotland showcasing a series of new digital works with the aim of entertaining the nation during quarantine. Broadcasting material every week, the project presents a wide and diverse range of work, celebrating all that Scotland has to offer. The initiative also acts as a fundraising platform where all money raised goes to the Scenes for Survival Hardship Fund, supporting artists and theatre workers who are financially struggling.

The Domestic shares an insight into a young woman’s experience in a hospital ward during the pandemic. After a traumatic event, she wakes up feeling lost, dishevelled and defeated but finds solace in some unexpected acts of humanity.

Working as a playwright and NHS nurse, Uma Nada-Rajah is a voice that we should definitely be celebrating at this moment. Her script is gripping, honest and nuanced, featuring an observational style. With kindness at its core, The Domestic reveals how the virus has shifted the mood of the hospital, including its staff, and is successful in building an ominous atmosphere. This is a perspective we haven’t really heard from, one that’s enthralling yet heartening.

Mirren Wilson – a sketch inspired by the piece

Kristi MacDonald’s performance of the young woman is understated but wonderfully sincere. We get glimmers of her quick personality, referring to the ward toilet as a “solid 3 stars on Trip Advisor,” or offering some comedic relief with “living ma best life.” Deep despair is evident, but this character goes on a journey with a life-affirming awakening. Posing the question of “What would you do, if you could do anything?” to the domestic, she gets a blunt yet profound reply.

Nada-Rajah is clever to title this character as ‘The Domestic,’ giving her a status but also insinuating that this could be anyone playing this community role. The domestic is as equally healing to the patients as the doctors are. Showing compassion, she heals with humour. It’s extremely uplifting to hear these crucial stories of humanity that are taking place within this scary, sterile world and to know that people are caring for one another.

The Domestic is dedicated to all domestic and service staff who are the unsung heroes of hospitals and care homes. It celebrates those mundane moments of true significance that deeply affect change within an individual, no matter how big or small. Nada-Rajah and MacDonald are a match made in heaven and this piece reminds you that there is nothing more rewarding than helping others.

The Domestic is streaming on the National Theatre Scotland website.