Heads or Tails is a one woman show with a twist – the woman is dead. Steph died in 2018 but has been given an opportunity to come back to Earth to perform her show. She shares her experiences of death and what she misses most about life. She’s clear that she is not an angel, nor the devil. It’s an interesting take on the afterlife (God is a woman, of course!) and the reflections of someone who lost their life at just 25 years old.
The show describes itself as an “existential pop culture comedy” and there are certainly pop culture references scattered throughout. Some to great comic effect. Some unfortunately already out of date, such as asking if Trump has gone yet. There are also plenty of references to dead celebrities and idols she has met in the afterlife, who she now faces spending eternity with. The section about how much she loved Michael Jackson, and how maybe he wasn’t that bad because he made it to heaven might jar a little. But the humour throughout just teeters on the edge of the line, and while this is exactly what some audiences will want, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Skye Hallam, the writer and performer, looks directly into camera throughout. It is effective and engaging, particularly powerful come the end. However, her sideway looks to camera when she makes sarcastic or amusing remarks feels a little too similar in technique to FleaBag to be fresh. Generally, the production varies between feeling polished and slightly rougher. Camerawork at times is quite wobbly, likely intentionally, but it becomes a little unsettling. One production choice that some might question is talking through mouthfuls of doughnut, not great for an audience member with misophonia – a severe aversion to the sound of people chewing!
The show flits between trivial pop culture references, jokes and profound observations on what it means to live and to die. Steph’s reflections are thought-provoking, pondering on what she misses from life (the smell of sweat, bird seed, her mum) and what she doesn’t (the anxiety of life, the failures of politicians). Heads or Tails is very funny at times, I’d definitely go to the pub with Steph. It also manages to have real impact, leaving me pondering those eternal questions about life and death that haunt us all.
Written by: Skye Hallam
Director of Photography: Luke Dale
Heads or Tails is playing until 22 February as part of The Living Record Festival. Full details can be found at the below link.