Writer: Tabby Lamb
Director: Jamie Fletcher
The idiom of a ‘voice of a generation’ comes with a lot of flak but is possibly the most refreshing and kindest way – Tabby Lamb’sHappy Mealispreciselythe voice of a generation, one of social media’s explosive impact, and the homogenising of Trans rights, lives, and the emergence of Trans stories which flow more into the ‘traditional’ genres of Romantic Comedy.
As the world changes, from MySpace and Bebo to Facebook and Twitter, the attitudes, positions and insights into Gender studies and body dysmorphia is as complex a minefield, as the spam folder on your laptop. And yet, the simplistic beauty of Lamb’s script leaves audiences with a Cheshire grin that doesn’t leave their faces for hours after watching.
Friends since the frosted days ofClub Penguin(R.I.P), Allie Daniel and Sam Crerar infuse such an authenticity within their performances, that rarely, especially in Allie Daniel’s case, does this feel anything other than tender and natural. The synergy and comedy the pair share, despite never really interacting physically, is magnanimous and mirthful, dipping in and out of Ben Stone’s marvellously inventive and effective staging.
The pair often communicate over digital means, from the haunting days of MSN to a more contemporary setting of Facebook or Skype. The rhythm of the performance keeps the pacing at a race, as the humour is lobbed back and forth, slowing somewhat to impress upon the strength in opening up for both of these young people coming to terms with their transitions.
Jamie Fletcher’s direction maintains levels of the dramatic at just less than fever-pitch, refuting concerns of melodrama – instead creating a hyper-realistic state where the bright palettes and video design emulate the surging emotions of Daniel or Crerar. The addiction of nostalgia ties directly into the warmth and jubilationHappy Mealexudes, and one cannot help but become invested in the flickering set pieces, timing executed to precision with Eliyana Evans’ playfully comedic sound design and Kieron Johnson’s lighting.
The persistent nature of TravFest always draws out significant highlights for the Festival Season. Where the cauldron of new writing continues to promote unsung and emerging stories, productions like Happy Meal, with its captivating charm and wistfully pleasant attitude sits pride a place in the Traverse, ready to carry audiences into a new generation where digital and physical identity link together to share new and needed voices.
Runs at the Traverse Theatre until August 28 2022