Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Fringe Review 4 star Highly Commended show review

Cheer Up It May Never Happen

Genre: Drama

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Venue: The Nightingale

Low Down

 A beautifully British one-woman show, in which the audience share the last humorous moments of Jean's life before she tries to commit suicide.


 We enter the space to see a more or less normal modern day living room: Laptop, plants, mug, comfy chair, accompanied by The Monkees' Daydream Believer. Then our leading lady Jean (Maggie Gordon-Walker) enters in a more or less normal fashion. With an understated matter of fact entrance Jean sits at the laptop, and starts to tick off a list of people she's to contact throughout the evening. It has very much the air of preparation for a holiday; calling the neighbours, checking the electricity meter, dropping the key off – only of course with the title and description we already know that this is not a normal holiday that she prepares for. Most of the show continues in this vain: an incredibly quotidian look at one woman's battle with life and death. She contacts her family, friends, ex-lovers, colleagues and boss telling each one of them that there really is nothing they could have done. Posing the question throughout then of Why? Why is this woman about to take her life? We never know.
Both the script and Maggie's performance pull this off superbly for much of the action. The script is clever, witty and shows a real detailed observation of language and character. Within the show the audience are the fourth wall, so much of the dialogue is created through phone calls, and reading out last emails and letters that Jean is writing. This is a tricky task: to strike the balance between giving the audience enough information and yet retaining a naturalistic air. Aside from a couple of clumsy lines on the phone this balance is achieved smoothly, and the audience are comfortable with the set up. Occasionally we are a bit too spoon fed, but this is made up for by some great one liners. Maggie's performance is energetic,detailed, engaging and funny. She has a wonderful ability to hold an audience, and she isn't afraid of pause. The start particularly was a little forced but the most successful moments are when she is able to relax into the words and trust that the script will do the work, which it does.
Having established well a time and space and vise for communication and comedy, there is a slight lull halfway through the show as the audience shuffle a bit more, and perhaps are asking – but where is this all going? We loose the direction a bit and get more of the same. There is one poignant moment as Jean finally sits on the comfy chair and debates telling a friend what we assume to be something closer to the truth. This is a great snippet of freshness from the rest of the show that we have been waiting for, but it is soon swept under the carpet too.
As a fourth wall piece of drama Cheer Up It May Never Happen is successful. Tackling suicide onstage is a big task, many have attempted it through the years, from Shakespeare to Donizietti. This version is not going to bring about great changes in your life, but as an entertaining, well crafted piece of theatre it is an evening well spent on the observations of our very Britishness right up to the last hour.
Reviewed by Adele Bates 6th May 2012

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Tell me about the show.

SK:      It’s a one-hour comedy about a woman trying to commit suicide.

That’s not an obvious subject for comedy, is it?

SK:      There’s a lot of humour in dark subjects. In this case, I was thinking that if you were a rather responsible, worried sort of person, then there might be a lot of practical details you’d have to deal with before you tried to kill yourself. It’s not so easy just to step out of your own life. In a way, suicide isn’t exactly the subject of the comedy, it’s more about trying to do something intensely private when the world doesn’t allow you to be private any more.

Maggie, is that a character you relate to?

MGW: Well, I’m not suicidal, but I think everyone can relate to the idea of wanting to get things done, and finding that you’ve got so much on your plate there’s no time for what you really want to do. You’re not allowed to be out of contact these days – there’s always a phone call or an email waiting to be answered. With some people that might be positive, it could remind you of the good things, but if you’re very low then it can just seem like an invasion.

Are you nervous about being the only person on stage for an hour?

MGW: Yes, of course I am! No upstaging or gurning permissible, or even possible. But maybe it’s not so frightening for me as it is for Pradeep Jey our director. He’s been in control during rehearsals, but when we get to the performance he’ll have to put up with whatever I do. The loneliness is integral to the piece, because it’s about one woman facing her future, or lack of future, on her own, so it really has to be a one-woman show.

How did you two get together on this show?

SK:      I’ve worked with Maggie on several things before, mainly sketch shows when she was wearing ridiculous costumes. She’s an amazingly versatile performer, very funny but also very sincere, and I wanted to see her in something more demanding and more profound.

Cheer Up, It Might Never Happen will be performed at the Nightingale Theatre at 7pm on Sunday 6th, Monday 7th, Tuesday 8th May. Tickets on the door or from the Dome box office (£8.50/£6.50), or they can be booked (plus a booking fee) at or on 01273-917272.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

'Cheer Up, It Might Never Happen'


Written by Sophia Kingshill, performed by Maggie Gordon-Walker, directed by Pradeep Jey.

“Dear Melanie, I’m committing suicide this evening …” Will death be Jean’s big adventure, or will she settle for her job, her family, her boyfriend, and neighbours who want to borrow her toilet rolls? Find out in this new one-woman show which takes a darkly comic look at our hectic lives.

A shorter version of this piece featured in Short Cuts, an evening of new one-act pieces, at The Nightingale last year. Following a very positive response we have developed the full length production.

Nightingale Theatre, Surrey St (Above The Grand Central pub)

6-8 May 7.00pm-8.00pm

£8.50 (£6.50 concessions)

Tickets can be booked at or 01273 917272 or available on the door