We Are Chester’s Angela Ferguson headed to the Forum Studio Theatre in Chester to watch the world premiere of comedy drama Head Over Heels. Photos: Stephen Cain.
Audiences in Chester have certainly been falling Head Over Heels for Chester-based playwright Gail Young’s latest comedy drama.
Head Over Heels, which has attracted full houses at the Forum Studio Theatre during its premiere and its four day run, tackles the topic of the growing demographic that is silver splitters. Silver splitters are retired folk who end up going down the rocky road of divorce after many years of marriage.
Depressing topic for a play? Well, it could be, but definitely not in this case, with a powerful comedy drama treatment from the pen of Gail Young. And the rapturous applause that greeted the performers when I went along to watch is a powerful testament, indeed, to the talents of Gail and the cast and crew at Tip Top Productions.
The play focuses in on the painful divorce of Jill (Eileen Gardiner-Reisin) and husband Andy (Richard Taylor), after 32 years of marriage. Eileen, it has to be said, is adept at portraying the vulnerability and the profound sense of loss that can come with divorce. And she is equally at home during the numerous comedy moments that give light to the shade of this potentially depressing topic.
Gail, who has also written comedy dramas, Cheshire Cats, Bouncing Back and Bothered and Bewildered, has certainly made sure that this play delivers on numerous fronts, providing an action-packed evening of laugh out loud moments mixed with the raw emotions of a heart shattered into tiny pieces.
Back to the 70s
We are taken back in time to the 70s and Jill and Andy’s first dance and Andy’s amorous attempts to woo Jill. Fast forward a few years and we get to witness the tender moment when Jill swaddles babe-in-arms Jim after he wakes up in the night.
Fast forward a fair few more years and there’s the painful poignancy of a parent and child role reversal here, with Jim (Ally Goodman) attempting to comfort his heartbroken and vulnerable mum, having heard that his dad has left the family home.
Andy, as it transpires, has been doing more than just wandering the hills and dales with one of his fellow walking club members. Tina, who features in a number of scenes, is played to great comic effect by Sarah Dyne.
Sweary put downs
Times are tough as Jill seeks the counsel of friends and her solicitor (Fern Evans) in a bid to navigate the choppy waters of sorting out the finances. Thankfully, her mates have her back. Jill’s sister Shelly (Jane Nugent) and close friends Carol (Rowena Owen) and Judy (Dawn Adams) never fail to deliver when it comes to pouring the prosecco and dishing out a sweary put down or two aimed firmly at Andy’s door, in a bid to lift Jill’s spirits.
If you are fortunate enough to catch a performance of this in future then expect laughter and tears by the bucket load. It’s a hugely moving play, set to an energetic soundtrack of 70s hits, and there are plenty of adrenalin-fuelled twists and turns to keep us audience members on our toes.
There were also some star turns from Derek Weigh as a drunken airline pilot and Evan Roberts as a superbly cheesy, seventies-style gameshow host, amongst others.
Congratulations to Gail Young and to the rest of the cast and crew from Tip Top Productions on a powerful premiere for this poignant comedy drama, which is sure to be performed across the land and further afield just like Gail’s other plays.
We give a rip-roaring ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ to Head Over Heels.