Theatre Review: Happy Now?

26 Apr

Plot: A chance encounter at a conference hotel plays upon Kitty’s (Olivia Williams) mind as she struggles to balance personal freedom with family life, fidelity and a testing job. Her husband seems more interested in misplaced apostrophes than his marriage, her parents are looking down the barrel of oblivion and, although she might toy with joining a gym, Kitty’s running out of time for big changes.

I have been wanting to ask my friend eddie who is now a happily married working mum to join me in my theatre escapades. The first and last production we saw together was at the Almeida’s Five Gold Rings in 2004 so after telling her about my new found passion I also wanted her to be a part of it, albeit in small doses. We chose this play to break her in as it speaks closer to home, about a modern mum who’s got a lot up her sleeve to deal with left, right and centre, and the question she asks is where exactly does my happiness lie?

I thought that what the play was trying to address was the issue of happiness or lack thereof but it never really showed us how it was dealt with. There’s a lot of unhappiness around Kitty’s sphere, her dissatisfied friends Miles (Dominic Rowan) and Bea (Emily Joyce) whose discussion borders on the banality of choosing what color schemes to use, Johnny, (Jonathan Cullen) her dependent teacher of a husband is not any help either, then there’s her now ill father who walked out on them after Kitty went to uni and her mum (Anne Reid) insisting not to answer the phone thinking it was her husband trying to reach her. Their gay friend Carl (Stewart McQuarrie) also showed an air of discontent after things didn’t work out with toy boy Antonio.

With all these frustrations, save from Bea who eventually kicked Miles out, no changes were suggested, nor for our overly stressed heroine to change her situation, she nearly did after meeting up again with Michael, wonderfully performed here by Stanley Townsend. Perhaps we will never really know the answer to finding happiness. Perhaps it is a bit too late to make that change. And whilst we’re waiting for it, might as well just watch Will and Grace for now.

Happy Now?: 2.5/5

Playing at the Cottesloe, National Theatre until May 10

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