The Sunny Side Of Chance Promo from MAD ALICE THEATRE COMPANY on Vimeo.


The Sunny Side Of Chance Promo from MAD ALICE THEATRE COMPANY on Vimeo.

Mad Alice was awarded £15, 000 of public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England in Autumn 2014 towards the research and development of a one woman show for our Artistic Director, Actress Shelley O'Brien..working title..


This surreal, comic and emotional play explores themes of life & death, faith & wisdom, childhood understanding & simplicity, biochemistry & ethics, and comic book and fairy tale heroines as a child's means of coping with difficulties & ensuing complex teenage emotions & questions and is based on the actress's childhood experiences of having two brothers who died of the genetically inherited disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, carried by females but only affecting males.

Cellular structure and chemical & mathematical equations have informed the design as well as 70's and 80's fashion. Soundtracks and other multi media approaches were explored too. 

This work was also supported by Queens Hall Hexham, Durham County Council Arts Development (Gala Theatre Durham) and Leisureworks (Derwentside's Trust For Sports and The Arts).  

We were greatly helped and advised in our play's development by leading Muscular Dystrophy Research Scientists and Social Workers/Genetics Nurse Specialists from The Centre For LIfe Newcastle Upon Tyne, in particular Dr Steven Laval and Mojgan Reza to whom we are truly grateful!

Pete Baynes -Lead Devisor and Director. David Napthine-Script Advisor Paul Harman-Mentor  

The research period culminated in sharing events of work produced at Queens Hall Hexham, The Education Centre Park Lodge Blackhill & Consett Heritage Park, St Bede's R C Secondary School Lanchester Durham and Action Transport Theatre, Cheshire.

Audience Feedback  

Fantastic idea to use wonder woman as a means of entering the body and finding out about the genetic condition!

Excellently put together and well executed, making the science accessible to everybody!

We felt a lot of empathy towards the characters portrayed and were intrigued to find out more and are excited to see the final production!

The character of Belinda was likeable and loveable and endearing and a safe vehicle to explore serious issues.

A powerful and edgy and thought provoking performance which was extremely accessible to all. The actress delivered excellent character changes.

Humour was used effectively and at the right time to lighten a serious subject.

A thought provoking performance, highly emotive, powerful and subtle.

Great acting! Very impressed!

Very clear believable character development from a fun loving child sensing all is not  right  to a teenager much needed by her family and then to an adult who reaches her capabilities and potential.

Made me realise how everyone has potential to grow even when life deals such tragic blows.

Easily followed the themes due to the very good production.

It has certainly wet my appetite to see the final full production!

The character of Belinda was easy to identify with even as a male observer! I had lots of empathy for the other characters portrayed too and very much was engrossed by the narrative.The science was brilliantly explained in an imaginative, original and accessible way!<empty><empty>

I loved the performance!

The play touched me as well as many others. It touched my humanity and my emotions and my spirituality. By witnessing the actress/character facing adversity and finding ways to cope with it was a real gift as it made us in the audience understand ourselves better!

The play cleverly presents moral questions and allows the audience to explore answers through a child's viewpoint, hence a safe way to look  at issues raised.

A thoroughly enjoyable performance,full of emotions and touched on everything, sad, happy, and everywhere in between! Very well acted!

Due to this extremely successful R&D phase, Geof Keys, Artistic Director, Queen's Hall Arts is commissioning the full production which we are touring from May 2016, opening at Queens Hall 5TH AND 6TH MAY!

NIna Hajiyianni, Artistic Director, Action Transport Theatre Cheshire is directing.

We are currently taking bookings. If you wish to book the show please contact Shelley O'Brien, Artistic Director, Mad Alice Theatre Company, 07880 792 597 / 01207 509 823 /


It was fantastic .

I fully enjoyed the play and felt the character Belinda described in depth at key points in her life how she felt living and facing the circumstances in which she lived an isolated life not to cause a fuss , but having insight that things weren't right with her brothers or parents .

 What was exceptional was the algebra scene and the expression of how she was feeling and the isolation . The other exceptional scene like this was with her mother when the mam stated she didn't talk anymore.These scenes were very powerful.


 The play at this stage in development helped me see the challenges a sibling has trying to live a normal life with two brothers who were increasingly unwell as well as the effect on Belinda who was affected, lonely, seeking answers and understanding .

I particularly was emotional at Belinda trying to find the answers herself and the desire to prevent or fix the illness .

Yes the play helped me understands the illness and the impact on different family members

I just can't wait to see the full play. Excellent is all I can say Shelley you were brilliant .Well done

Deeply moving, funny, very simple and clear and very honest with an underlying strength and that's what I appreciated most of all about it - the tone.  The tone was not bitter, or self-pitying but it was strong, honest, accepting and clear. That's how I would describe the actor too.
An inspirational story!
The play does make you think about the advances of medical science, of the still incurable nature of some diseases and conditions.  But the fact that life and health are a gift
I thought it was a really cleverly conceived production with a strong storyline told through a myriad of characters.
I loved Beryl the Peril and Wonder Woman -the latter especially did much to demystify the causes of muscular dystrophy in an appealing yet compelling way.
I loved the set design too . I think the constant reminder of the tireless war waged against the disease by scientists was beautifully portrayed in the clothing , wallpaper and landscape of the production. You paid tribute to the medical research really successfully.

An  absolutely fab and really mesmerising performance.

I was really immersed in the characters, the story and the way you used the whole space on stage.  It's made me think a lot about the issues you raised - so subtly and cleverly done. 
I thoroughly enjoyed it.  For me, I know a play, programme or film works when you keep revisiting it and replaying scenes in your mind and asking the questions; this is what happened with The Sunny Side of Chance today - well done you!
                                                                                         You should all be so proud of yourselves and


excited at the prospect of things to come, you have the makings of a wonderful production - the potential is awesome.
I felt for the character Belinda.  She was determined and tenacious in a difficult situation she was unable to control.
The play made me feel very emotional.
I enjoyed the idea of travelling through the body and how you got the science across. I enjoyed the humor and the tenacity of Belinda but this was very sensitively done as her innocence and inability to resolve    matters was subtly underlying.

The play made me think about financial decisions that have to be made about medical research and medicine and how./who/why it is decided in certain ways and how difficult any of these kind<empty>

of decisions are when you talk about peoples lives.  It can determine (sometimes) how much progress and medical break throughs can be helped on hindered.

Yes it brings that eternal question, who are we?  Why are we here? Why did they die? Is there a God? Which is why I liked the Belinda little, “If God forgives everything!” then he won’t mind if I steal a biscuit.

It was very emotional and brought a lot of memories back

The play was a rollercoaster of emotions from the humorous to the dark at the snap of a finger. Which I found very effective and real to life as in the darkest moments there is a strange humour that pervades the moment.<empty>

All the characters worked for me, I enjoyed the unfolding of the story and greatly enjoyed the jumping backwards and forwards in time. It was a mystery slowly being solved and caused the audience to pay greater attention as they try to piece the story together.

I’m also interested in how by the end of the journey Belinda has been ‘re-born’ with a positive and life-enhanced attitude towards all that life can throw at her.  There’s a universal theme being explored here

Specifically it raised the question of how we view illness and how we deal with the reality of it in order to live a normal life.  Not in the sense of simply adapting to it, but of celebrating and enjoying life even if we are confronted with a life-threatening disease.  Overall it raised a question about our spiritual identity.  Are we something other than the physical body alone?<empty>

I was able to resonate with the piece on quite a deep level.

Characters were brilliant.  Very believable and highly entertaining.  The show promises to be a tour de force. 

 The play tackles a difficult subject, dealing with the almost taboo issue of living a positive life in the face of a terrible illness. 

The courage and the search for truth of the central character through this was inspiring and left me with a feeling of hope in dealing with such a situation. 

Rather than being pulled down into negativity and sympathy there was a sense of being able to find a way through to a positive conclusion.


There was real warmth and love in the way relationships with friends/parents were portrayed.

An original and distinct play and that needs to be said/explored

It impressed me with how a young person could cope with/adjust to something of this magnitude.  I felt sympathy for older and younger and particularly for the mother and father.  It made me feel interested, heartened to a degree, by the stoicism and energy of the human spirit – to continue living a positive life and to try and help people/help yourself, despite such heartache and tragedy.

There was a wonderfully honest relationship developed with the audience by the actress through this engaging character of Belinda.




The Sunny Side Of Chance Promo from MAD ALICE THEATRE COMPANY on Vimeo.

Mad Alice Theatre Company