When the Sky Falls In

When The Sky Falls In is written and presented by Janet Gershlick. She is quite clear about not being an actress, although as a broadcaster she has many years experience working in radio with the BBC and independent stations such as Capital Gold and Talk Radio UK. Possibly in need of her own "Agony Aunt" these days she actually worked as one both locally and nationally as a co-host presenting with Trisha Goddard on her Channel 5 problem-solving show. Prior to that she travelled all over the world teaching broadcasting skills and could be heard over the waves with British Forces Radio in Hong Kong, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. She is also medically qualified as an SRN and midwife.

It is in that spirit of helping and sharing that she has come to the Fringe with what might be regarded as a piece of therapeutic drama.

Such a background conjures up the image of woman of determination, resilience and considerable self-confidence who could not be phased by much. To a greater or lesser degree she has always had those qualities, but nothing provided her with immunity from the impact of her mum and stepdad’s death within three months of each other. Suddenly, a portal opened into an abyss of deep mourning and intense grief which she is still trying to navigate.

When The Sky Falls In is about that ongoing ‘journey of grief and how to survive it‘. It’s her first attempt at writing for the stage and has been developed with assistance from director Ralph Bogard. It sits uncomfortably under the description of being a play; rather, it is poignantly personal testimony in which she wears her heart upon her sleeve. ‘Everyday I would record how my life both stayed the same and had also been changed for ever’, she says. Readings from that journal form about half of the presentation. Interspersed between them, away from the draped lectern, are scenes with the cat she believes her mother caused to walk into her life and other moments and remembrances from the months following her bereavement. These are structured but ad libbed, so When The Sky Falls In is different every day. Her style has the chattiness of sitting with someone having a coffee or maybe one of those informal radio shows she used to do. It is also not without humour.

Gershlick's not after stars and it seems invidious to give a rating for such an intensely personal work that doesn't really belong in any Fringe category, but that’s the name of the game. When she realised that her ‘words could perhaps help others through their journey of grief and loss’ she devised a multimedia book, Janet Talks (http://janettalks.com), in which the boundaries between literature and performance overlap. It is in that spirit of helping and sharing that she has come to the Fringe with what might be regarded as a piece of therapeutic drama. Let us hope it can carry her and others further along the road to inner peace and reconciliation. 

Reviews by Richard Beck


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The Blurb

When broadcaster Janet Gershlick lost both her beloved mum and stepfather within three months of each other she decided to write about her devastating loss, the journey of grief and how to survive it. Developed into a one person performance she speaks with honesty, passion, emotions and a little humour. It tells of Bertie the cat who came and went and how people try to deal with your grief. She believes that the performance will resonate with all those who have lost and all those who have to deal with a life changed forever.

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