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Theatre Review: Beyond Supervet

TV personality and veterinarian Noel Fitzpatrick – or Supervet – arrived at Blackpool Grand Theatre with his one man show this week. Stephen Dunstan says it was a strange concept for a show but had all the emotional elements of the best telly.

A lectern with laptop, a hay bale and an old fashioned radio on stage before the show began were an intriguing combination. They didn’t entirely clarify how the show would go beyond Noel Fitzpatrick’s long-running television series, but an appreciative audience were taken on an interesting journey.

Things kicked off with a pre-recorded film, rather reminiscent of some of Michael Jackson’s later work, along the lines of love conquering all and the precarious state the planet is in under our stewardship. Then the Supervet bounded on stage and immediately worked hard on building excitement in the audience – though some clearly didn’t need much prompting.

With material that ranged between complex surgical procedures and heart-tugging stories of individual pets in grave medical situations it was a rollercoaster ride of an evening.

Fitzpatrick’s essential central thesis, beyond the importance of love, was that mankind can learn much from animals. He also stressed the importance of treating other sentient beings with respect and compassion. This developed through the first half of the show into the need for more cross-fertilisation between human healthcare and veterinary science, something the star devotes time to through his charity the Humanimal Trust.

Fitzpatrick has been a bit part actor in the past, including appearances in The Bill, Casualty, Heartbeat and London’s Burning and, naturally, he was theatrical and confident in his delivery. With material that ranged between complex surgical procedures and heart-tugging stories of individual pets in grave medical situations it was a rollercoaster ride of an evening.

The post-interval highlight was probably some elementary guitar work tying in to a story about, of all things, the fact that Supervet’s treatments for osteoarthritis couldn’t be used by Bryan May of Queen. At times towards the end things got a little repetitive, but it was hard to fault the underlying messages about treating other creatures with respect, treating others with kindness and the importance of practice and dedication to achieve excellence in a walk of life. A thought-provoking and probably unique evening of ‘edutainment’.

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