Like A Little Bedpan Humour?

Aoife Murphy on turning her years of nursing into a one-woman show.

Pulling together stories and anecdotes from her years of experience on various hospital wards, Aoife Martyn is hoping her new show, Nursey, will leave you in stitches.

And having opened to rave reviews in Dublin, there’s a very good chance it will.

Hailing from Mayo, Martyn has worked as a registered nurse in the big city for many years, holding a Bachelor of Nursing Science (Hons) degree from The National University of Ireland. Throw on top of that years of training at The Gaiety School of Acting and the co-founding of the No Desserts Theatre Co., and it would appear that Nursey – playing at The Whale on Saturday, June 8th – would come into being.

Just how the show got from there to here though, we decided to find out…

I created my one-woman show Nursey having gathered a plethora of stories from experiences and encounters in my many years as a nurse. involving patients, my colleagues and patients’ families. The play was also inspired by my own mother, as she was a nurse for many years.

She’d always fill me with stories, both funny and sad, that unsurprisingly coincided with my own experiences during my training and later in my career.

I began writing the script over two years ago and staged a work-in-progress version of it at Smock Alley Theatre’s Scene + Heard Festival of New Work in March 2020. It was met with great success and I was lucky enough to then get support from Dublin Fringe Festival’s Fringe Lab 50 initiative and later, further assistance with development of the piece from The Abbey Theatre’s Engine Room.

Nursey is a high-octane, physical piece of theatre and I play 14 characters in total, including an apparition of Florence Nightingale! Florence is of course regarded as the best nurse that ever lived – but I think Nursey is better; she’s more craic!

The narrative is very much rooted in a heightened reality. The characters are large and colourful and speckled with a slight madness, that I find great fun to play! My relationship with nursing has always been quite funny. I would have had very testing, stressful experiences in hospitals and clinics (I think I can vouch for every nurse when I say that) and I’d question, “Why on earth am I doing this job??”, and then one small, lovely experience would happen, and that would pull me back closer to why I became a nurse in the first place.

I think people often forget nurses are human and overlook this regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic really put nursing in the limelight for a short while, but I think there is a lot more room for improvement and change needed on how nursing itself is viewed by society and the government. I wanted the play to always come back to the fact that the main character Nursey is a human.

You can grab your tickets for Nursey on Saturday, June 18th at The Whale.



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