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Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil

20 APRIL - 8 MAY 1999

Written by Alex Jones
Directed by Mark Babych

Do you find yourself wondering what life is really like for members of the opposite sex? Does your partner hear you exclaim 'you never see things from my point of view!'   Would you want your partner to experience life as you know it?

These are some of the questions posed by Birmingham-based writer Alex Jones in his brand new comedy Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil; a story set firmly in the 90s - which deals with familiar contemporary issues: marital disharmony, employment pressures, infidelity and sexual harassment.

Phil and Jill are your average 30-something couple; stuck in a rut, their lives revolve around Phil's demanding job as a marketing executive. Jill struggles through life as a wife, mother and shelf-stacker at the local supermarket. Frustrated and brow-beaten, Jill seizes an opportunity to change her life - with extraordinary results; she willingly trades Phil's E-Type jaguar (not surprisingly, the love of his life) for a magic potion from a passing traveller.

What Jill doesn't bank on is the extent to which her life is changed - Jill becomes Phil and Phi[ becomes Jill! Confused? - not half as much as they are!

Entrapped in each other's bodies, they discover first hand some unimaginable truths. Jill (as Phil) learns that her husband is guilty of sexual harassment and Phil (as Jill) experiences unwelcome advances from the creepy supermarket boss. The tables slowly turn as each adjusts to his/her new role. Jill thrives in a high flying environment whereas Phil finds that he enjoys shopping for pretty dresses and frilly underwear ...

The story reaches a bizarre and unexpected climax, with something of a twist in the tale.

Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil is a mad-cap, surreal comedy of gender reversal that constantly strives to challenge the identity of conventional stereotypes. The play contains some strong language and is not suitable for children!

Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil opens at the Worcester Swan on 1 April (until 17 April) and transfers to the Belgrade Theatre on 20 April (until 8 May).

The Inspiration For Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil
By Writer Alex Jones

My mother was and always will be the greatest influence on my life. She was an intelligent, loving woman who inspired me to better things. But her calm suffering and acceptance of her place in society as a woman, mother and wife was typical of her generation. And she did suffer the privations and prejudices of the time: juggling her domestic duties with a demanding cleaning job that paid peanuts, just so she could buy decent furniture and keep her kids "well turned out". And so while we were all still asleep in bed, she would be up at 4 o'clock in the morning to do work that no man would demean himself to do, and then spend the rest of the day tidying, cleaning, shopping and cooking until her day ended.

Such was the lot of many women of her generation, and although much has changed and women are breaking down the barriers of male prejudice, constantly fighting their way into jobs and positions of power and influence, men are mostly still in charge and long-held attitudes still hold sway with a great many. My wife Sarah told me of how before she had met me, she was sexually harassed at work, and as the harassment continued, had to leave the job. As if the indignity of that experience wasn't bad enough, when she tried to complain about her boss's behaviour she was dismissed as a trouble maker.

Although I have heard a lot of similar experiences (and much worse), I have also seen women getting on with their lives, changing their circumstances and bringing up children while still managing to have a fulfilling life. The ultimate catalyst for me writing this play I suppose, was the exam pie of my niece who as a young unmarried mother, suddenly surprised us all by chucking her abusive partner (who can only be described as a bastard), changing the locks on the doors, sorting out child care and getting herself a career. It hasn't been easy for her, but at least she isn't accepting her lot in life as my mother's generation did - 'good on yer, girl!'

My mom was proud of her grand daughter. My mom's sacrifices were noble, but ultimately they deprived her of experience and intellectual fulfilment. It doesn't have to be that way, and never should be.

And so - here is the play - Phil & Jill & Jill & Phil, influenced and inspired by the women in my life ...

MORE INFORMATION: Cath Pitkethly  01203 846 703

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