What made you write Good Grief?
I started an outline during the very first days of the lockdown, just because hearing everything on the news about people losing loved ones and not being able to say a proper goodbye evoked something inside of me. Of course, I had no idea that by the end of it I’d be writing something that somehow became a homage to my father.
The story gives a poignant nod to the pandemic. Like the characters, do you feel changed by what we’ve all lived through?
In almost every way conceivable. I know not everyone has had the same experience of Covid or the lockdowns, but I have definitely come out of it – if we can even say we’re out of it – as a very different person. Things that always seemed important to me almost disappeared overnight. And vice-versa. So it’s hard to even remember who I was before.
You’re directing the play, too. What has it been like working with the actors?
Directing is always such a joy. I like laying out very clearly what the work means to me, but from there I make a point of encouraging new ideas, views and opinions on the text. If you aren’t willing, or if you’re unable, to collaborate, then I think the theatre is probably not the most enjoyable place to go. But I like using plays to explore my feelings, and I want my peers to have that luxury, too.
In this play, the Walker family display a whole spectrum of emotions. Are there any similarities between the Walkers and your own family?
Ha! YES. Honestly, I think every family has more than an element of the Walkers in them. Some families are more vocal in their support and disapproval of each other. Others are more inhibited. But we all have similar thoughts and emotions, and exploring the dynamics of family really is when theatre’s at its best.
What three words would you use to sum up Good Grief?
Emotional, relatable, uplifting.
What other plays would you compare it to?
Tonally, I feel like it’s similar to All My Sons, by Arthur Miller. But there’s more humour in here. We’ve all been through so much that I didn’t want this to be too bleak. So imagine All My Sons if it was starring and directed by Noel Coward and you’ll kind of get the gist!
Why should people come to see Good Grief?
Putting all else aside, we really do have a wonderful cast. It’s a mix of established names, seasoned pros and a couple of new locals, and support something like Fringe Theatrefest can never be a bad thing.
We’d like to thank Jody for taking the time to speak to us and can’t wait for Good Grief to begin its 3-day run at The Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple. Performances are between 24-26 June 2022, and you can book your ticket from the link below.
Please note that anyone who comes to see the play can get a copy of Spectrum for £4.99 instead of £9.99. Simply keep hold of your theatre ticket and present it to us upon buying the book after its release on 8 September 2022 (International Literacy Day).
If you wish, you can also hear Jody being interviewed by Laura James on The Voice FM.