Happy Hour – Review

Happy Hour – Review

Act:Happy Hour
Date: Thursday 13 October
Reviewer: Louise Heys

There was an Autumnal chill in the air when I arrived at the brightly lit foyer of The Atkinson for the performance of Happy Hour, a physical comedy. I followed a group of excited students from a performing arts college up the stairs and into the theatre bar where I was greeted by friendly staff who advised, as the show was called Happy Hour, the bar was having a happy hour too on certain drinks, so I happily settled into my seat in the intimate Studio theatre with a Prosecco humming ‘When you’re smiling ’which was playing in the auditorium while everyone took their seats.

The stage was brightly lit. On one side was a ladder and water machine and on the other a waste bin filled with shredded paper connoting the play was to be set in an office environment. As the lights dimmed, two women and two men took the stage in formal office attire and the story became clear that the workers on Level 3 were racing against the clock to achieve their daily quota of Smiley Faces lead by the team leader ‘Adam’ Adam Davies who trained at RADA’s MA Theatre Lab, who I thought stole the show with his almost Alan Partridge comedic delivery.

The show was an hour long with no interval thus making it feel a bit long but observing the students in front of me they seemed enthralled and many of the themes I felt resonated with a younger audience such as the use of the smiley faced emoji and popular, lively songs played such as Happy by Pharrell Williams, these with non-stop action helped keep the studio audience interested.

The term physical theatre was new to me. It means theatre with an emphasis on movement rather than dialogue. The actors moved in some scenes like acrobats. In one memorable scene, they moved in slow motion. I was spellbound by their slick, abstract choreography and read that Tmesis Theatre has been creating physical theatre since 2003 and run regular educational workshops. I was kept amused not just with its physicality but the dialogue was fast paced and poignant to the 21st century as we followed a day in the life of put upon Dave, high flying manager Adam, Power greedy Jen and the New girl and how hard we work to achieve happiness.

The audience laughed at current topics such as a ‘cheeky Nandos’ and the X Factor and yet the atmosphere changed as we watched the emotions of Dave change from happy to sad. His overwhelming feeling of being useless showed us his vulnerability and added another layer to the play which I felt enriched it and brought to the forefront the shows premise of the theme of our 21st century obsession with striving for happiness and success in the workplace.

When the show was over, the actors were given a generous round of applause and we exited to more happy music. I took a minute to ask the students in the audience if they had enjoyed it and was met with smiling faces like the smiley faced emoji the workers on Level 3 needed for their daily work.

As I left The Atkinson that night, I reflected on the theme of the play and felt myself sympathising with office managers with target goals, motivating their teams with ‘Big Brother’ always watching and criticising their performance at work to drive teams to the maximum of their ability.

Humming Happiness by Ken Dodd, I crunched through the leaves outside The Atkinson as I went home, smiling as I had just spent a happy hour watching Happy Hour.



Posted on 21 October 2016 under Review

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