Nye review: I went to see Michael Sheen's new play and it showed me just how special the NHS is - and the man behind it

Man in PJs
Michael Sheen excelled as Aneurin Bevan -Credit:JOHAN PERSSON

Everyone knows who Aneurin Bevan is, even someone like me who didn't grow up in Wales. I knew he was Welsh and I knew he created the NHS after the Second World War - and that, shamefully, is about it.

It wasn't until going along to watch Nye at the Wales Millennium Centre, starring Michael Sheen, that I learnt more about the impressive, ambitious and at times temperamental man behind the NHS. The show, which also stars Kezrena James who was amazing balancing the characters of nurse Ellie and Arianwen and Sharon Small who excelled as Jennie Lee, also shows the true beauty of the NHS.

It can be very easy to criticise the NHS but Nye brought it all back why we are just so lucky to have it. That fundamentally everyone, no matter where they are from, who they are, or what they earn, has the right to decent and free healthcare. Want less ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

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Touching moments include those when Aneurin, who is known as Nye, is met with the horrific problems of the previous health service after the war and the very, very moving ending when (warning, spoilers) coming up, Nye passes away surrounded by doctors and nurses, saying he feels safe and comfortable. He looks into the crowd and poignantly asks "Did I look after everyone?". Yes, Nye, yes you did. You can't help but reflect on how the NHS continually looks after everyone, every second of every day.

Following Nye's story, which was performed beautifully by Michael Sheen who is able to nail the art of acting as a child when Nye jumps from memory to memory, I learn that he was beaten at school, started as a miner and climbed his way up to being a Member of Parliament from a local councillor. It was so interesting to learn the backstory of this huge figure in Welsh history and as the performance continued so did the drama, building and climbing nicely and ending with a dramatic scene before the interval as well.

Nye is not made out to be a saint, he was after all also a politician, as we learn about his affairs and the inner workings of his marriage to Jennie Lee, who is played superbly by Sharon Small. While it was a lesson in history for me this is not a performance I would necessarily recommend for children, it had the trademarks of a National Theatre performance with a slightly unnerving element including dramatic dancing and slightly gory scenes.

This includes Nye holding his father David as he died, choking for his last breath, and again was performed very well by Sheen - hitting the audience right in the heartstrings. There was also a surprise musical element, adding a touch of light-heartedness to the performance, and showed off some skills I didn't know Sheen had. Find out about the latest events in Wales by signing up to our What's On newsletter here.

Overall the spectacle is well worth the watch as you come away with even more appreciation for the NHS, which Nye himself admits might be flawed but is always brilliant, and a greater insight into the incredible, complicated and astounding man behind it. Nye is running at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday, June 1.