Heads or Tails
The Living Record
Death and religious beliefs are heavy topics, so the light (at times even cheerful) tone of Skye Hallam’s Heads or Tails is something of a surprise.
Deceased actor Steph (author Skye Hallam) is given the chance to revisit earth and let us in on the secrets of the afterlife. Many of these are cheerfully irreverent—God is female and prefers to be known as Helen. Yet, as the monologue progresses, Steph finds herself remarking on what she misses most from life and wanting to express her appreciation.
Heads or Tails feels like it was written for the stage rather than for online. There are several in-jokes and cheeky asides that would have worked very well with a live audience. Steph remarks the space in which the monologue is performed reminds her of Jermyn Street Theatre—which is where the show was actually recorded. Yet the warmth of Hallam’s personality comes across even in the recorded format.
The scattershot format of the monologue allows Hallam to chuck in a number of great gags as well as address topical issues. It is divided into five sections allowing the inclusion of well-worn themes such as why God tolerates evil and allows good people to suffer. The main theme is that pointless anxieties produced by modern culture make us afraid of living life to the full just as much as we are scared of dying. Heaven is, therefore, the absence of such concerns and the chance to spend eternity with those we love or admire.
Hallam takes a non-judgemental approach acknowledging that everyone has flaws. Members of a culture quick to condemn failings or to ‘cancel’ unpopular or controversial opinions are reminded only God is entitled to sit in judgement.
The tone of the play is light with an undertone of gratitude mingled with regret. Hallam performs in the manner of someone who is bursting to share a really juicy bit of gossip. The bittersweet conclusion acknowledges a drawback to the afterlife is the inability to communicate with loved ones until they too pass away.
Heads or Tails is a gentle reminder of the need to take the opportunity to be grateful for what we have and not miss the chance.
Reviewer: David Cunningham