Play review

From Galen to Gallstones – A review

Laudable pus in Galen to galstones by our own popular writer Anna Girolami comes to the Buxton Festival Fringe
Photo Simon Ferrigno Galen to Gallstones

July’s Buxton Festival Fringe saw the debut of our very own Anna Girolami’s play, Laudable Pus (from Galen to Gallstones), a witty romp through the annals of medical history.

The play was entertaining for old and young. In the relaxed setting of the High Peak bookstore, the highest bookshop in England, the well attended show saw actress Sarah Gordon put on a mock medical lecture, beginning with Galen, a Roman-era Greek medical pioneer, moving on through laudable pus to castigate a profession that is still a mountain to climb for women.

Speaking to us afterwards, Anna Girolami said ‘The inspiration for the piece was purely functional. It was a very last minute decision by Sarah and me to put something into the Fringe this year (just for the fun of it really) so it had to be something that I could write very quickly but which was also suitable for a solo performer. Given our respective backgrounds, a spoof medical lecture fitted the bill nicely. The phrase “Laudable Pus” is one of those classic aphorisms that you absorb during medical training and I thought it would make a good title. At which point, I was pretty much locked in to writing about Galen! Liston was another obvious choice because his story makes for good physical drama. Having selected two men, Sarah and I felt the balance needed redressing – hence the witches and Garrett Anderson’.

Photo Simon Ferrigno Galen to Gallstones

However, she adds ‘Clearly, quite a lot has changed for women in the medical profession since the Middle Ages. About half the intake of medical students in the UK is now women. But plenty of inequalities remain. In the UK, it’s the same sort of baked-in discrimination that we see all over the place. A lot of the issues result from women still doing the vast majority of the childcare/aged parent care – an imbalance which is endemic throughout our particular society really. The profession is still constructed for those people who want to work and do nothing else – or for those people who can rely on others to take care of everything else. Women doctors are paid about 20% less on average and are under-represented in senior positions across the board. In certain parts of the profession, it’s far worse’.

Anna and Sarah hope to take the show out again later in the year around the region. Watch this space.

Buxton Festival Fringe has been going for more than 40 years (it runs alongside the prestigious Buxton International Festival). It takes place over 2 and a half weeks in July, mixing theatre, comedy, spoken word, music and more, with some people using it as a trial for the Edinburgh fringe.


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