Oxford Theatre Guild’s choice for its autumn production was Whose Life is it Anyway? by Brian Clark, performed in the intimate halls of the Oxford Mathematical Institute.

The plain walls and angled glass panels seemed fitting for a play set in a hospital, and the arrangement of the seating meant we were right in the heart of the action.

The premise of this play was simple: Ken Harrison has been badly hurt in a car accident and as a result is paralysed from the neck down. The prognosis for recovery isn’t good so he decides, given his condition, that he no longer wishes to live under permanent care and asks to be discharged from hospital knowing that this will lead to his demise. This sets up a battle between Ken, his doctors and the authorities on who has the right to control life and death, is it the patient or the medical teams?

Despite the subject matter, it was punctuated with humour; much of the comedy coming from Matt Blurton as Ken.

Although his character was confined to a hospital bed Matt’s performance was excellent and perfectly captured the array of emotions experienced by a man dependent on carers.

Ken’s daily needs are provided primarily by his Nurse Kay Sadler played with understated skill by Antionette Drakes. She is backed up by superb performances from Alison Stibbe (Dr Clare Scott), Victoria Wilson (Sister Anderson) and Amanda Holland (Margaret Boyle). Together with senior consultant Richard Readshaw (Dr Emerson) and hospital porter Tom Mason (John) they created an extremely believable medical team. This believability was sustained by the calm and controlled manner of the acting.

What impressed most was the attention to detail. From the frequent use of the hand sanitiser to the very unappetising looking food, it was easy to imagine being in a busy well-run hospital.

There was much to enjoy in this excellent production.