Skip to main content

We Hope That You're Happy (Why Would We Lie?)

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
The popcorn handed out to the audience on the way in to see Made in China's two-handed dissection of happiness is as playfully deceptive as everything that follows. The black-clad young woman standing atop a platform licking an ice lolly who greets us similarly wrong-foots any implied fun and games. Over its fifty minute duration, however, Tim Cowbury's script morphs into an increasingly manic and unreliable memoir of apparently shared experience in search of meaning.

The woman on the platform is Jess. The young man that slinks on sporting a Sideshow Bob hair-do is Chris. As the pair gaze out at the audience, they claim to be best friends. In-between downing cans of beer pulled from an ice-box beside Jess, the duo tell elaborate shaggy-dog stories and do dance routines to David Bowie's Rebel Rebel and Susan Cadogan's reggae take on Hurt So Good. They cover themselves in flour and tomato ketchup, putting themselves through dramatic endurance tests as their words and actions become more desperate and frenetic. Where Jess and Chris look for eternal salvation, they remain stuck with an endless round of cheap thrills, sugar rushes and bad memories.

Developed at Forest Fringe by Cowbury with performers Jessica Latowicki and Christopher Brett Bailey, and with support by the National Theatre Studio, this is a quirkily realised and often very funny study of how memories become myths. Among all the live art detritus, In the end, it's as if fairy-tale trouble-makers Hansel and Gretel had discovered an off licence next to the sweet shop and rewritten Samuel Beckett's Happy Days in their own messed-up image.

The Herald, November 13th 2012

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…