Talking Heads is the latest work from Tip Top productions. The series of bleakly funny monologues featuring dark and troubled characters were originally made and filmed for the BBC. This version, directed by Andy Jordan consisted of 3 acts, each featuring single actor holding the attention for 30-45 minutes. Each play features minimalist sets and gentle keyboard musical interludes in between the scene changes.
“A woman of no importance ” featured well known local actor Janice Fryett, who was memorable as Mrs Herod in the 2013 mystery plays. In common with all 3 plays is a creeping sense of dread and the sense that there won’t be a happy ending. Portaying the seemingly confident Peggy, the play begins with the character talking about her job and varuious every day workplace woes. From the number 56 bus to her boss admiring his Cactus Calender , to lunch table conversations the minutiae of the everyday world is brought to life. Events gradually take a darker turn as Peggy visits the doctor and eventually finds herself facing a bleak future, and her a terrible loneliness taking centre stage. With flashes of humour throughout , including a dated reference to Rhyl being “very select”, the tragic ending and the unravelling of a person’s life will leave you moved.
The middle play “A Chip in the Sugar” features Tip Top regular Mike Deakin as closeted mother’s boy Graham. His life is dominated by his relationship with his mother and his growing jealousy over her new friendship with a face from the past. As the play develops, Graham finds his perfectly ordered life and sense of control start to crumble. Playing all three characters, the actor has no issue holding the audience’s attention, with the potent mix of brilliant jokes and aching sadness, leading up to final twist.
Finally “A Lady of letters” stars Sally Dillon as the equally lonely Irene. The obsessed complainer and letter writer begins by reporting some smoking funeral attendants and soon things are descending into abuse and harassment. But still the jokes and comic observations flow as the character descends into darkness and faces her fate, where ironically she finds the happiness she was seeking.
Talking Heads is hugely moving and the jokes will linger along with the tragic trapped fates of the characters , all united by loneliness, existential grief, and the knowledge that sometimes things don’t work out… one of Tip Top’s very best. Although we’re all excited by the coming Storyhouse, lets not forget all the local talent that has been producing and performing in shows of this quality for years..
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