THERE were tears and laughter in equal measure in this production as the joys and sorrows of life unfold on a roller coaster ride of emotions, writes Dave Harrison.

The curtain rose on About Jack - a comedy-drama, written produced and performed by Stourbridge actress/playwright Esther Stanford, at Birmingham’s Midlands Arts Centre to immediate acclaim from a sell-out audience.

It centres around the relationship between Jack, played by Line of Duty star Gregory Piper, and his mother Sarah (Esther Stanford) whose lives change beyond recognition when Lauren (Rebecca Fuller) enters the scene.

As Jack’s romance with Lauren develops, the impact on Sarah grows and the world around the trio is fraught, while at the same time deeply moving.

Esther manages to inject observational humour into the tense emotional scenes with her insight into the characters and their interaction keeps the audience gripped as the tale weaves its magic into its mixture of love, loss and growing up.

At the end there is a twist which drains the emotions of the theatre-goers and as one audience member admits: “You feel so connected with the characters they almost feel like part of your family. By the end there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This play deserves to be in the West End.”

About Jack is Esther’s second play and follows the success of ’88 which also featured Gregory and Rebecca at Birmingham Rep.

Directed by BAFTA winner Ian Smith, it also features Melanie Hamilton.

It will be performed next at London’s New Diorama Theatre on August 16.

There will also be performances in Stratford and Nottingham at venues and dates yet to be confirmed.