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What if... Those Characters Became Real?

L-R:Hannah Perrin as Eve, Lily Skinner as Adela, Elliot Gear as Tom, Zoe Mortimer as Helen. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.

Head & Heart written and directed by Paul Greenwood, running at The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from Wednesday 31 January to Saturday 3 February 2024.

Review by Ann Evans


It was the world premiere of actor/writer Paul Greenwood’s third play, Head & Heart, performed at The Bear Pit Theatre, and what a brilliant night’s entertainment this was.

Head & Heart is all about the creative process that a writer – or in fact any creative person, goes through when trying to come up with a new piece of work. Insecurities come to the fore, self-doubts crowd in and self-confidence flies out the window.

Probably everyone who has ever tried to write has battled against those nagging little thoughts at the back of their mind telling them their ideas are no good, their writing is rubbish and questioning why they ever thought they could write in the first place.

In Head & Heart, writer Eve, played by Hannah Perrin is going through this exact same scenario – only her subconscious, her imagination and her characters have all taken on lives of their own - four individual lives in fact. Three who are playing out the character roles Eve is creating for them and battling against her ‘heart’ led ideas every step of the way. And there's Evelyn, played by Jo Pearson, Eve’s exact opposite – her sensible, practical, logical ‘head’ side of herself. And all of them have plenty to say for themselves.  

Elliot Gear as Tom. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.

Take Helen, played by Zoe Mortimer who Eve plans on being her lead character in her story. Helen, dressed all in blue, is a kind and sweet person who doesn’t want to do or say anything shocking or harsh, and has Eve backtracking and scribbling out her words almost faster than she can write them.  

Whereas Adela played by Lily Skinner is the scarlet woman in the story – dressed accordingly. She’s having an affair with Helen’s husband Tom. And her ideas of what the character should be saying and doing are far raunchier than Eve can cope with.

As for Tom, played by Elliot Gear. He is dressed in bright yellow matching his happy-go-lucky personality who thinks that any piece of writing is much better off if there’s humour in it, even if the jokes are corny.

L-R:Hannah Perrin as Eve, Lily Skinner as Adela, Elliot Gear as Tom, Zoe Mortimer as Helen, Jo Pearson as Evelyn. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.

Finally Evelyn – the ‘head’ side to Eve’s ‘heart’ side. Evelyn is adamant that you need structure and planning and that Eve is approaching this all wrong – letting her imagination run away with her.

There are so many things in this play that any creative person will recognise and empathise with, and they come across through the brilliant writing and the brilliant acting of this team.

So, Eve is struggling to write even the first scene – characters are re-winding, disagreeing, and trying to take over. Poor Eve is battling to keep her characters and her imagination under control. But there’s more. Evelyn is pressurising Eve to look deeper into her past, to bring back painful memories, and to explore these through the story. But these are a part of Eve's past that she doesn’t want to face.

Everything about this play is cleverly thought through. From the colour scheme – blue, red, yellow – primary colour which Paul Greenway pointed out in an after-show talk, that from these primary colours you could create any colour you wanted. This bold colour scheme plus Eve in white and black, and Evelyn in black and white, was genius.

Remembering too, that these four characters aren't real, they are all figments of Eve’s imagination, and she could eliminate them – or ‘bottom drawer’ them whenever she wanted. She could even shoot them with that gun that’s been brought into the story – or maybe one of them will shoot her? After all, as writers are always being told, if a gun is brought into a story, at some point someone must fire it.

One of the great things about this play is that because it’s so unique, the audience really didn’t know where it was going – but were loving the ride. Head & Heart is packed full of excellent writing, great humour and wit. It’s also something of a masterclass in creative writing (the play’s original title), full of useful writing advice delivered by Eve’s conscience: Don’t forget memories; there has to be truth; what if…;  sometimes you must kill your darlings;  and more.

As for the choreography performed by Helen, Adela and Tom that is so clever and performed to perfection.

The acting of these five was faultless and totally absorbing, holding the audience’s attention from start to finish. In the after-show talk Paul Greenwood spoke of his inspiration in writing Head & Heart, how he has always made notes and kept snippets of conversations, thoughts and comments about writing all his life, which he finally put together in a play. And those five characters are all a different aspect of himself.

Adela threatens to fire the gun. Photo courtesy of The Bear Pit.

To give credit to Paul as a writer and director, in the after-show talk each member of the cast spoke highly and appreciatively of how Paul has collaborated with them, and his generosity in allowing the cast to come up with their own ideas, so that the play has evolved organically.

Someone in the audience asked how long it took him to write it. To which he replied, “I’m still writing it!” In talking about the experience of working with the team at The Bear Pit, he added, “The cast have been tremendous. They’ve jumped in with two feet and have been extraordinary. I have had the best help right from the beginning. This has been the happiest time of my life, and these five are just the best!”

It was a fascinating talk and a great ending to a wonderfully enjoyable and unique play. Jokingly Paul said he thought the play was funnier than the laughs it got, (even though there was laughter all the way through,) and someone from the audience told him that even when people weren’t laughing they were smiling very loudly!

Be sure to get your tickets while you can:



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