WINCHESTER’S theatre-goers goers will have their heartstrings well and truly tugged at when Chesil Theatre kicks off the New Year with a tearjerker.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds tells the heart-warming story of a dysfunctional and chaotic relationship between a mother, Beatrice, and her two daughters, Tillie and Ruth.

Tillie, who has an unexpected scientific talent, grows a pot of marigolds and exposes them to radiation for a school experiment. The plant forms and grows abnormally mirroring the path of the dysfunctional family that keeps threatening to tear itself apart.

Writer Paul Zindel, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for the play, based Beatrice on his own mother; a woman who he once said “conditioned him to believe that the world was out to get him”. Beatrice’s other daughter, Ruth, takes after her mother. She is cocky and keen to fit in at school; everything her shy, introverted and science-loving sister is not.

Syliva Jobling, who plays the part of Nanny, said: “Paul Zindel escaped his dysfunctional family life through education. So this play is a homage to the libraries, teachers and institutions that can help children go further in life and escape from bad situations.

“It is a sombre play. But the audience will see Tillie, and her love of science, and see that there is always hope.”

The play runs from February 1-8 and starts at 7.45pm with a matinee performance on February 8.

Tickets cost £10/£12 and are available online at or by calling 0844 8700 887. Booking fees apply.