Critical Condition: Trauma

Trauma | TVNZ 1, 8.30 Sunday

➢ “Trauma is a twisty tale of two men whose lives become dangerously intertwined by bleak chance. Even the credits hint that the pair are doubles, one representing the light side, one the shadow. That the doctor (Adrian Lester) is black and the grieving father (John Simm) white is satisfying on a metaphorical rather than structural level; it’s class, not racial tension that fuels Mike Bartlett’s drama. Dan’s disbelief at his son’s pointless death quickly becomes a fixation with the godlike surgeon — rich, happy, worshipped by all — who failed to save the boy.” — Financial Times.

➢ “What was best about Trauma was the Rolls-Royce performances of its two leads: Adrian Lester as top surgeon Jon Allerton and John Simm as grieving father Dan Bowker, whose son Alex was stabbed and later died on Allerton’s operating table in the trauma centre. In other hands it might have become a bureaucratic drama about judicial process, but Bartlett went instead for the jugular as the grieving father, believing his son to be the victim of a moment’s malpractice and having no faith in officialdom, opted for a more retributive reckoning.” — The Arts Desk.

➢ “Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett restrained himself from killing a child during series two of the hit domestic potboiler on BBC One, even though it looked to be going that way several times. But in Trauma, he goes a step further and presses our noses painfully up against the window of parental grief.vBartlett, with his theatre background, knows how to hit that sweet spot between the viewer on their sofa and the back row of the stalls. Child murder aside, I’m keen to see where Bartlett takes this next.” — The Guardian.

➢ “It is a tremendous performance from Simm, who manages to make Bowker’s self-loathing seep out of his pores. Lester is grand too, an imperious god-made-flesh who has just been confronted with his own fallibility for the first time. No doubt that some time during [the] second episode and [the] finale the pair will be grappling, bare-chested, on a stormy clifftop, but until we get there we have a subtle portrait of two crumbling men.” — The Times.

➢ “Trauma was pure theatre: it had long, confrontational, two-handed scenes between Simm and Lester, as Bowker tried to pressure the smooth Allerton into admitting he had made a fatal mistake. Simm’s intensity and Lester’s ability to portray confidence buckling into doubt deserved a ‘tour de force’ recommendation. Yet television is a medium that loves realism, and Bartlett stuck solidly to it, concentrating on bringing his characters to life.” — The Telegraph.

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