Cheating Divers Plumb Depths in NHS Scam (2008)

This presentation of this work on Battersea Barge was formed of three actions. The work aims to create an atmosphere of expectation and responds to a newspaper article about treating people for the bends.

i. (High visibility jackets spread throughout the audience as the evening goes on. At the start, just one person is wearing one but gradually more and more people are seen in these yellow vests).

Photo by Andy Eaton

ii. (Emma walks onto the stage and sits at a table on which today’s copy of The Guardian lies folded. She opens the newspaper and speaks).

Photo by Andy Eaton

You were sat at breakfast this morning, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper, and one article in particular jumped out at you. I’ll read it to you – see if it sounds familiar.

“Three men tried to cheat the NHS out of £250,000 by charging for fake diving chamber treatment, Plymouth Crown Court heard yesterday. David Welsh and his two co-defendants used names of real patients at a diving centre to charge health trusts for specialist treatment in decompression chambers that never took place. Although many of those named had used the centre’s swimming pool, eight said they had never been diving and one claimed he could not swim.”

(Emma folds up the newspaper and replaces it on the table).

Perhaps that’s why you’re feeling so melodramatic this evening. Since you read this article you’ve had the notion of pressure on your mind. You haven’t realised it, but as the day has gone on, the power of this article has grown.

(Emma stands up and walks to the front of the stage).

The tide is falling outside. As it does so you imagine an invisible level of water rising in the barge, as if it has a relation to the tide outside. Somehow this motion is related to the rocking of the boat.

You become aware of all the sounds of water in the barge: the clink of ice cubes in your glass, a dripping tap, a flushing toilet. You have already noticed that there are four ways out of this room – keeping them in mind should you need an escape route.

You realise in a moment of self-reflection that this is what fears are made of. A fear can start with a joke, a misplaced glace, or any other insubstantial thing. Perhaps that’s why you’re feeling melodramatic this evening; because you know that fear, like water, has a tendency to follow the path of least resistance.

(A man wearing a high visibility jacket walks from backstage up to Emma and whispers something in her ear, then departs the same way he came).

Enough of this talk. I will leave you to your drinks. There’s a lot to see. I wish you a good evening. Thank you.

(Emma exits the stage).

iii. (Every half hour, on the half hour, a bell is rung at the bar and a woman shouts, “The tide is falling!”)

Find Out More

> Find out how Emma used the same news story in Lost at Sea


Performed at my site | in space, curated and produced by Switch Performance
Newspaper article written by Gavriel Hollander