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Passing On

Santé Theatre Warwick in association with Little Angel Theatre presents Passing On by Mike Kenny.

Directed by
Claudette Bryanston

Designed By Phil Eddolls

Stage Management: Mathew Llewellyn Smith

Costumes: Gillian Malster.

Performed by Alison Belbin, Paul Magson, Paul Nolan and Bharti Patel

View DVD trailer for Caring at the End of Life (produced by Isis Media)

This powerful new play was created from real life stories about ordinary people experiencing the hard reality of their loved ones dying in a hospital ward. Juxtaposing intense testimony and moving dramatic imagery with a life-sized puppet, the play explores the dilemmas facing both relatives and health professionals during end of life care in a Midlands hospital. Jim and Joyce recall their encounters with insight, confusion, humour and love as they meet health professionals and carers during their mother’s final hours. The play was based on research into deaths within 48 hours of admission to hospital at the University of Warwick funded by the Burdett Trust.

Excerpts of audience feedback

“The puppet was brilliant; found it really conveyed what was going on. Also it let me think about all people in that position, not just that individual character”


“Again realistic because of the facial expression, height and build (interesting comment as the face did not move)”


“Allowed it to be realistic but also distancing”




“Realistic/showed fragility”


“Really emphasised the dependency she has on her care”


“Authentic and valuable, symbolic, increased insight. A good aspect. It emphasises helplessness and voiceless. Moving – specific without being a personal story”


“I was curious to see how this topic would work as a theatre piece. Highly engaging and though provoking”


“Absolutely incredible and powerful metaphor”

Reviews from the Press

“This is an ending of an ordinary life with ordinary people-this is what makes it so real, while the methods used make it gripping theatre.”
– British Theatre Guide (Read full review on the British Theatre Guide website)

“A life-size puppet of a dying woman movingly captures the vulnerability of those left in the hands of strangers in the last days of their lives, while Alison Belbin and Paul Nolan bring the words of her daughter and son-in-law to life with heartbreaking realism.”
– The Stage

Passing On picturePassing On explores the dilemmas and issues facing both relatives and health professionals during end of life care by juxtaposing powerful testimony with puppetry. The play has been created from real life stories of the ordinary but extraordinary business of dying. Death today for most of us in this country will be in hospital not perhaps the most appropriate place for some of us to die. This very private moment behind paper curtains in a brightly lit general ward might not be all we wish for, yet we are scared of caring for someone in their last days hours or minutes. The puppet is both absolutely effective and deeply affecting and only a puppet can breathe its last breath on stage. The puppet enables the unplayable to be played. It can die.

The play addresses the taboos, ugliness humour and peace that are all part of end of life care. The puppet plays the dying person with an inimitable fragility. The power of the puppet can be no better described as being able at times with its own persona to objectify the patient and allows us to both empathise and alienate in the way that only theatre can so brilliantly achieve.

Passing On bedside pictureAmongst our story tellers we meet Joyce. She says with great insight:

“I mean you take our daughter, she got I don’t know how many round her when she was in labour and this that and the other, but when you’re going out ….you don’t get that much attention do you.”

The play becomes a spoken sound track, a meditation on a person’s last days, hours and minutes of life in hospital a place more attuned to the prolonging of life than the easing of dying.

The central character in this play from who we never hear, we learn so much.