The Quality of Mercy: Concerning the Life and Crimes of Dr Harold Frederick Shipman

Theatre (new writing, true-life)

  • theSpace @ Surgeons Hall - Grand Theatre
  • 17:35
  • Aug 26
  • 1 hour
  • Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)
  • Country: United Kingdom - England
  • Group: Nailed Productions
  • Warnings and additional info: Contains distressing or potentially triggering themes, Themes of suicide and euthanasia.
  • Accessibility:
    Wheelchair Accessible Toilets
    May not apply to all performances. You'll find more information about accessibile performances and how to book tickets in the accessibility tab below.
  • Babes in arms policy: Babies do not require a ticket
  • Policy applies to: Children under 18 months


From his cell in the early hours of the morning, Dr Harold Shipman records a confessional tape as he prepares to end his life. Patiently fashioning a crude noose, he reflects on the choices, compulsions and fascinations that cemented his place as the most prolific serial killer in British history. Exhaustively researched, this multiple award-nominated drama interrogates society's attitudes towards death, justice and compassion, and is written and performed by Edwin Flay, the grandson of Shipman victim Renee Lacey.

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General venue access

  • Wheelchair Accessible Toilets
  • Accessible entry: Venue is on the first floor.
  • Wheelchair access type: Building Lift

  • Stairs: Information not supplied

Each venue can contain several space with different accessibly information. Visit the venue page for full venue accessibility info

How and when to make an access booking

Our access tickets service is available to anyone who:

  • Would like to book specific accessibility services, e.g. a hearing loop, audio description headsets, captioning units, seating in relation to the location of the BSL interpreter
  • Requires extra assistance when at a venue
  • Has specific seating requirements
  • Is a wheelchair user
  • Requires a complimentary personal assistant ticket to attend a performance

Erin Edwards 41 days ago

Absolutely captivating. The best piece of theatre I have seen at the Fringe. Edwin Flay is such a talent. I was completely engrossed in the narrative. So informative and thought provoking without being sympathetic. A real must see. I have already recommended it to all my friends. 5 stars!

Julie Phillips 44 days ago

This was excellent. 5*. Difficult subject matter expertly delivered.
Thought provoking. Well done!

Robert 44 days ago

I know next to nothing about Shipman and his crimes, but that didn't stop me from appreciating this show and its attempt to explain how Shipman became what he wound up being and how he rationalized his behavior. Another show that's well-suited by its simple staging and understated presentation that allow you to focus on the performance and characterization.

Lyn and Tim Bunker 45 days ago

We hadn’t planned to visit this show, but we were in the Courtyard on Thursday evening when approached by the performer. Firstly his costume was outstanding, we knew exactly who he was before he spoke. He explained who he was and about the show and we were gripped. We managed to fit it into our Friday list.

What an outstanding performance. His connection to the story was very personal, yet his performance was enthralling and we remained gripped throughout. The story starts as Shipman aged 16 has to watch his own mother die, bedridden with stage 4 lung cancer. Even in her frail state she still controlled him and he feels torn between a domineering mother and a desire to stop her pain.

He becomes a doctor himself and feels he has a power to stop the suffering of his patients. This inevitably leads to the biggest serial killer in UK history, not that he sees himself in this way.

This performance was passionate, informative, heartbreaking, emotional and incredible. Would highly recommend seeing this if you get the chance at the fringe.

Michael Goodwin-Grist 45 days ago


This harrowing one-man character study into Harold Shipman will leave you haunted by his actions. An excellent understated performance that emphasizes the banality of evil, as well as fantastic direction and tech that really leaves the audience hit by his crimes.

Joanna Bircher 49 days ago

The best show I have seen so far this fringe. Clever writing and superbly performed. This is a dark tale, but shines a light on the personality of this evil man and how he came to kill so many whilst maintaining a front of professional respectability.

Paul and Karen Gardiner 49 days ago

An acting tour de force. Dont miss this. But be warned you may never go to the Doctor again

Debbie 50 days ago

Out of 22 shows we saw at this year's Fringe my partner and I agreed this was the best. Brilliantly written and acted, charting the psychological journey and justifications made by the killer while respecting the memory of his victims.
I haven't seen footage of Shipman for years yet immediately recognised the actor's demeanour was spot on. Knowing Edwin Flay personally lost someone to Shipman's crimes makes this all this more affecting and worthy of respect.

Jo Scholey 52 days ago

What a start to our 2023 Fringe. Brilliant one-man show. Completely believable characterisation. I could even see his point of view right to the last few minutes, when he transformed from a good doctor into a serial killer. Simple, but effective backdrop really brought it home.

Iona Grant Brokenshire 55 days ago

Its not all laughs at the Fringe - and yet somehow this performance still evokes some dark humour. Doctor Death recounts some of the 200+ murders he committed from the age of 26 as a practicing physcian, whilst fashioning a noose in his prison cell.
Fascinating drama.

Marcus Ferreira-Lay 56 days ago

So unbelievably professionally performed. What an incredible actor and an incredible way to showcase the life that this serial killer lived. As an audience member, you couldn’t help but get sucked into the story. It got even more interesting with each minute that passed. Highly recommended.

Glenys Mclaren 57 days ago

Edwin Flay, the writer and actor is the grandson of one of Harold Shipmans victims. He has done considerable research to produce this remarkable script and performance. Not only that, with his beard and assumed demeanour he is extremely apt for the role. The origins of Shipmans behaviour are teased out and his gradual evolution into a man so driven by compulsion that he could not stop himself. Twenty five years on, hearing the account and number of the patients’ deaths is still chilling. Highly recommended.

FayM 58 days ago

This show really blew me away. The way that Shipman's story is told is at times chilling and horrifying, but you're totally engaged for the whole performance. The play isn't macabre and is instead deeply psychological. For one man to convey so much in just an hour is a very powerful and I would recommend to everyone that they get a ticket.

Paul Bryan 59 days ago

I found myself getting angry while watching this show . I wanted to enter the stage and give "Shipman" a well deserved slap . I remembered just in time that this was acting , so convincing that I had become lost in the piece . Superb .

Anon 60 days ago

Excellent - v powerful and well acted, and also v respectful of the victims. One of the best things I’ve ever seen at the fringe

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One4Review (5/5 stars) 42 days ago

An extremely polished and disturbing performance that I urge everyone to see.

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Theatre Weekly (5/5 stars) 45 days ago

one of the best shows at the Fringe this year

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Playbill 46 days ago

compellingly telling a story that will shock and disturb you, leave you on the edge of your seat the whole time, and haunt you long after you leave.

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British Theatre Guide (4/5 stars) 47 days ago

‘nailed it’, an excellent production. Definitely one to see.

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Theatre, Films and Arts (5/5 stars) 50 days ago

It’s a shocking and moving piece of Theatre.

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Fest (2.5/5 stars) 52 days ago

A thought provoking solo piece focusing on Harold Shipman's crimes.

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The Student (4/5 stars) 57 days ago

Review by Maisie McGuffie

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Participants - for further details on our audience and published review policies, including how to add or opt out of reviews, please click here.

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Participants - for further details on our audience and published review policies, including how to add or opt out of reviews, please click here.