Lung Theatre’s Who Cares is a thought provoking and touching play focusing on the lives of three youngsters from Salford who at first seem like any other ordinary teenager, but behind closed doors they are young carers carrying responsibilities beyond anyone’s imaginations.
Matt Woodhead’s award-winning play based on real life testimonies is heavy on providing facts to get the message across that young carers in the UK do not get anywhere near enough support or recognition. I was blown away by research carried out by The Children’s Society that young carers on average miss 48 school days just so they can take care of family members and loved ones which often leads to lower levels of self-confidence and falling behind on education.
The stage has a set of lockers and three chairs, its simplicity always making the three actors the centre of attention each telling their own tale. Jade (Liyah Summers) cares for her deaf brother and father all whilst completing her A levels, Nicole (Lizzie Mounter) lives alone and has been caring for her mother ever since she was four years old and Connor (Luke Grant) cares for both of his parents.
All three have one thing in common and that is the frantic nature each new day brings to them with the start of the alarm bell ringing and suddenly, the worries of the world come crashing through. From whether they’ll be able to pick up prescriptions on that day, to providing personal care and how many more reasons do they have left for the teachers to explain their late arrivals to a lesson every time.
As the story progressed, I realised how difficult it must be for a child who becomes the parent overnight to balance their work, home, and social life properly, we can see the role having detrimental effects on the characters mental and physical health.
Nicole opened up and talked about her mother’s heart-breaking suicide attempt and how helpless she felt in that moment with no one around to help her, with a dark light shone above her looking into the audience eyes you could see distress and hurt, her words stung everyone in the room.
At times I felt the play was repetitive in the performance delivered with several transitions such as the opening and closing of the lockers made it hard to keep up with what was to come next. In other words, it was a realistic portrayal of how young carers go through so much all at once and don’t enjoy the privilege like many others to take some rest in life.
At the end of the day, Who Cares is a movement for change, a heartfelt play that was hard to watch because of the pain and trauma the young carers faced which no one around them seemed to notice. Nonetheless it is important that we finally shine a spotlight on the impact of austerity in this country.
This is only the beginning of amplifying voices of the unheard to learn more about the who cares campaign and support available to young carers please visit: https://www.whocarescampaign.co.uk