THE GUINEA PIG CLUB
By Craig Adams and Andrew Doyle
Working with director / dramaturge Roger Haines
The Guinea Pig Club tells the extraordinary true story of Archibald McIndoe, one of only three plastic surgeons in Britain during the Second World War. Operating out of a specialist hospital in East Grinstead – which became known as ’The Town That Didn’t Stare’ – McIndoe treated hundreds of airman who were severely disfigured when the fuel tanks of their planes exploded, burning their faces and hands.
McIndoe treated the young men in body and mind, using experimental surgery to rebuild their bodies while supporting them emotionally and psychologically through the recovery period. He would often sit in the ward in the evenings playing the piano, and his patients formed a club – the Guinea Pig Club, named for the untested techniques McIndoe utilised when treating them – which continued to meet until 2007.
The show, a full-length piece with a cast of ten, explores the effects of extensive and life-changing surgery on these young men and the local community.