TV review: Trauma, ITV
- Henry Northmore
- 8 February 2018
New drama from the creator of Doctor Foster, Mike Bartlett, starring John Simm and Adrian Lester
Television viewing has become fragmented and in this world of multiple channels, on demand, boxsets and catch-up, Mike Bartlett's Doctor Foster was a mini phenomenon. TV drama that people actually tuned in and watched as it was broadcast. It got more ridiculous and hysterical with every episode but it was pretty addictive nonetheless. So it's no surprise that people are eagerly anticipating what Bartlett would come up with next.
Dan Bowker (John Simm) is a stressed father facing redundancy; Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester) is a high level surgeon who appears to have it all. Their lives collide when Dan's teenage son is stabbed. As he's wheeled into the operating room Allerton looks Bowker directly in the eye and says: 'trust us, please.' The surgery is not a success; the boy dies on the table. Dan's grief turns to anger, looking for someone to blame, focusing his rage on Allerton, stalking him online, plotting his revenge.
Trauma feels very different to Doctor Foster, it lacks the same manic energy, but still deals with heightened emotions as people are pushed to the edge and react in extreme ways. Trauma cleverly exploring the idea that two people can read the same event completely differently. Simm excels at bringing this downtrodden, broken, character to life; even as he lashes out, you understand his pain. On the other side of the coin, Lester struggles with guilt and the burden of responsibility.
Despite the window dressing Trauma is still a thriller rather than a serious examination of the effects of losing a child but it provides a strong, relatable motivation for Dan's misplaced thirst for retribution as it takes him into darker and darker territory. And it's the strong performances from Simm and Lester that give it bite and prevent Trauma drifting into histrionic melodrama.
Episodes watched: one of three.
Trauma will broadcast on ITV in Mon 9–Wed 11 Feb, 9pm each night.