Playwright Ben Weatherill is right to call Jellyfish a love story. Set in Skegness, it tells the story of a relationship between Kelly (Sarah Gordy), who has Downs Syndrome, and Neil (Sion Daniel Young), who does not. The coupling creates controversy. Family members, colleagues, and the wider community all have something to say about propriety, ability, and sex.

Love.. is the battleground of Weatherhill’s piece.

Weatherill’s words carefully unpack prejudices in the opening and closing scenes, and directly address the ‘problem’ in the middle. Framing discussions about how Kelly likes her fish and chips (no sauces, not too hot), are wider concerns about Kelly’s own aptitude and autonomy in the modern world. And yet her voice is estranged from the conversation.

Like real arguments, the arguments between characters in Jellyfish are all slightly unfulfilling and reveal personal inadequacies far more than strengths. This is a real point of clarity in Weatherill’s writing: characters constantly try and educate each other yet regularly fail to get their points across. Kelly’s overprotective mother Agnes (Penny Layden), sees the relationship between Kelly and Neil as a point of exploitation; a societal disparity within which there can be no equivalence of love. As such, she is on a crusade, and her crusader mentality only complicates a flourishing intimacy with problems of distance and secrecy.

Love then, is the battleground of Weatherhill’s piece. How to love, and who to love, is what is at stake. This is often captivating, but the sense of threat in Weatherhill’s script is, on the whole, low. Some aspects of Kelly and Neil’s relationship felt too safe to fail, but perhaps this is Weatherhill’s point. Jellyfish is a largely gentle script, with its momentum sustained by small moments of domestic humour in a penny-arcade and unlavish setting. The through-line works and wraps itself around an audience satisfyingly, but there is capacity within this love story to really play with the idea of why relationships fail, and how they can be sabotaged by others.

Ultimately, this play is made whole by Sarah Gordy’s meteoric performance. Her Kelly is mischievous and direct, sexually aware and assertive. Director Tim Hoare’s vision of the piece was one where the actors can shine on their own, where stillness is a strength, and where all action takes place against a Skegness landscape of fish and chips, supermarkets, and call-centres. Skegness is neither praised nor pilloried in the play. Skegness is simply not the focus of this play.

The scene transitions in Jellyfish deserve special note. They were relaxed whilst still being efficient. They also reinforced a feeling of palpable sensitivity that saturates the show. At one point, Gordy raised her hand to request assistance to stand from one of the stage crew, who supported her as she stood. In a play above love and acceptance, it was touching to see the stage management reflect these same values of intimacy.

Jellyfish opens with an image of Kelly, an ardent beachcomber, holding a crab she has found washed up on a stretch of beach. And the play closes with an image of something else, washed up – but not necessarily abandoned. This is the beating heart in Weatherhill’s play – ‘washed up’ and ‘abandoned’ are very different things. Beachcombing is a process of discovery and patience – characteristics in short supply today.

It should also be noted that Sarah Gordy has the most infectious and mischievous laugh in British theatre. Long may that laugh entertain us.

Reviews by Skot Wilson

Above the Stag Theatre

The Establishment Versus Sidney Harry Fox

The Space

The Cloak of Visibility

Royal Court Theatre

Shoe Lady

Royal Court Theatre

A Kind of People

Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre

Three Sisters

Royal Court Theatre

Midnight Movie


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Following a sold-out run at the Bush Theatre last year, Sarah Gordy returns to play Kelly for a limited run of this radical and heartfelt new play.

Kelly likes dirty jokes and finding creatures washed up on the shore. Neil likes Kelly, who makes him dizzy and breathless. But Agnes, Kelly’s mum, struggles to accept their new relationship.

Jellyfish is the story of a first kiss, chips by the beach and coming of age with Down’s Syndrome in a seaside town. It’s a unique romance across uncharted waters which asks: does everyone really have the right to love as they choose?

Picture credit - © Helen Murray

Most Popular See More


From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £35.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets