Yesterday I watched Skye Hallam’s excellent one-woman show, Heads or Tails, one of the headline acts at the new Living Record Festival. It’s a gently confessional monologue about the afterlife spoken by 25-year-old Steph, who has – as they say – been “taken too soon”.
Starting in pitch darkness, the show is lit up by the fantasy that Steph, or indeed any dead person, could be allowed to come back to impart the wisdom of the dead to us, the living.
It’s a neat device which allows Hallam to be both satirical (God is a woman, or maybe gender neutral, with the preferred pronouns of she/her) and also emotionally realistic (Steph has a lot of empathy for our anxieties about feelings of emptiness and loss — relevant now more than ever).
In about 40 minutes she covers lots of issues, from celebrity idols (Michael Jackson) to the nature of the afterlife, from queer culture to FOMO, and from Brexit to feminism. All this is beautifully articulated by Hallam, who comes across as warmly assured, instantly engaging and softly inspiring.
Superbly filmed by Luke Dale, at the Jermyn Street Theatre just before the second lockdown, she’s bright, intelligent and imaginative, with a wickedly suggestive whisper. The upbeat feeling that affirms life while discussing death suggests that we should all chill out a bit — and let go of our angst. Enjoy life — even in dark times.
Heads or Tails is streaming from the Living Record Festival website until 22 February 2021.