The Supervet, Noel Fitzpatrick – Live Review – Hull Bonus Arena
By Kirsty Reid, September 2018
Super heroes are often only read about in comics or seen in movies, but this week I found myself in the presence of a real-life super hero at Hull’s Bonus Arena. I am, of course, talking about The Supervet, Noel Fitzpatrick.
Using ground-breaking medical technology, Noel and his team of dedicated researchers and bio-engineers have saved the lives of thousands animals – animals that most would consider to be beyond saving.
Now, following the success of his Channel 4 show, the celebrity vet is currently on tour with his first-ever live stage show, ‘Welcome To My World’ – a deeply immersive experience that uses documentary-style footage and animation to narrate Noel’s journey from bullied childhood to The Supervet.
Love and hope are what Prof Fitzpatrick, a farmer’s boy from County Laois, is all about. He might well be a technical genius with celebrity status, but he is humble and grounded. His kindness and compassion are what makes him so lovable.
“Invented a superhero character”
Here, The Supervet provides the audience with a frontrow seat inside his mind, encouraging fans to join him on his journey “from a field in Ireland to a fantastical world of bionics and regeneration, where everything becomes possible.”
The show begins with Noel sharing the moment he first realised, at the age of 11, he wanted to become a vet. Recalling the time when, despite his best efforts, a newborn lamb died after he rescued its mother from a drain. Though he has gone on to save many animals since, it’s evident that the incident still upsets him even now.
Talking about the experience, he says “I laid on the grass looking up at the brightest stars in heaven feeling useless, helpless, weak, nothingness, wishing I was more than a small speck in the universe. At that moment, I developed a very clear sense of what I was supposed to do with my life. And that was to make a real difference for all of the animals.”
To cope with the frustration of being unable to ‘fix the animals’, Noel goes on to tell the audience how he invented a superhero character in his head – Vetman. The veterinary superhero would solve all the problems of the animal word with magic bionic dust in his bionic bunker. Amazingly Noel has gone on to do just that – albeit with a different moniker.
“A natural on stage”
With few human friends, as a child Noel sought comfort from school bullies in his dog, Pirate, who he referred to as his best friend and confidant. Thus, fuelling his passion to make a difference in the animal world.
As the show goes on, it becomes clear that Noel’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges – from battles with bullies, struggles at school, financial setbacks and a near stabbing in Philadelphia. The celebrity vet has certainly had his faith tested, but inspired by Rocky Balboa and his own hero, Vetman, Noel tells how he dusted himself down and kept fighting for what he believed in.
Throughout his journey, the vet refers to advice given by a former mentor and friend, “everything is impossible, until it happens.” It is, he says, a motto he now lives his life by.
With a background in acting (yes, really) Noel is a natural on stage as he shares the trials and tribulations of his journey with great compassion and enthusiasm. A ‘virtual operating theatre’ provides an insight to how everyday observations have inspired his revolutionary developments in orthopaedic surgery, from a lollipop lady on a street corner to comic-book hero Wolverine.
I think few would argue Noel’s work is anything but impressive, but he makes a point of showing that he’s not a miracle worker. He isn’t afraid of showing death and failure, and though his failures are heartbreaking, they are not in vain and often followed by great success.
Though the show couldn’t last forever, Noel’s tale is far from over. The celebrity vet has big plans for 2019 as he calls for more synergy between human and animal medicine.