In hushed tones as we are ushered down a long shiny corridor a nurse asks my friend: “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?”

In a blur we pass posters about breast cancer and AIDS, flu vaccines and health checks and enter a bright room full of people sitting on chairs. Curtains slide, smiling figures shrouded in white coats bustle about. We are shown to a quiet corner where we sit and wait.

But we are not in a surgery or the A&E department at Watford General. This particular theatre of operation is the stage at Watford Palace where Tangled Feet’s production of Care opens up above, behind and in and around us.

Two orderlies enter flapping white sheets about across which footage from the inaugaration of the National Health Service plays out. The film fades, the bed is made up and the actors begin.

“This is the main road”, they announce, “you’re on your way to the best possible care”.

As the piece unfolds we meet the people behind the scenes who make it all happen – the cleaners brandishing their mops, the nurses mopping brows, the doctor’s receptionist literally tied up in a telephone cord by the number of calls she must answer and the management looking for ways to cut the budget to stay in business.

Of course we must not forget that at the heart of any facility that makes up the caring industry is the patient and this is made all the more poignant when Amy, a member of the hospital staff, becomes ill and enters that bewildering world of diagnosis, of tests, of consultancy, of waiting and being ‘kept in for observation’.

Tangled Feet’s cast is acrobatic, empathetic and wholly engrossing as they negotiate trapeses and screens while delivering often complex lines of dialogue. They are almost constantly on the move whether in front of the audience or thudding backstage to keep the momentum of being in a busy hospital alive.

Cristina Catalina is superb as the beleaguered Amy and Leon Smith is supremely believable as the likable Nurse Harry Smith who goes above and beyond the mere phrase ‘duty of care’.

Mario Christofides is equally adept juggling between the role of a doctor, a cleaner and a mental health patient – the latter a character I would like to have seen more fully realised.

Some of the politics are too wordy and the scenes with flapping birds are a bit obscure. A lot of the physical elements really speak for themselves so even pared down the script would still have impact. An awful lot of care has been spent on it after all.