Writers: Creative Electric
Director: Heather Marshall
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
The Happiness Project is a curious beast of a show, moving from an almost glee club school drama company take on the problems of the world and social media in particular, to a show with poignant and deeply personal stories about relationships. It can leave you cringing or applauding the courage of the performers in almost equal measure.
At its best a monologue on picking up a man in a nightclub, repeated with a change of tone and additional lines, switches from being a hedonistic account of adrenaline and alcohol fuelled meetings that end with euphoric sex, to a compelling evocation of a cycle of loneliness and longing, looking for love and finding only one night stands in its place.
Similarly a piece on internet porn moves beyond the immediate celebration or condemnation style stereotypes that normally accompany the topic, and becomes a very well measured objective assessment that throws the ball back to an education system that doesn’t teach anyone anything about sexual relations until after curiosity sets in and children turn to the internet to fill in the gaps.
At its worst however, a musical interlude an overly long section on addiction to social media featuring all five performers says nothing that hasn’t been said many times before and offers no telling insight or conclusions on the subject. In these moments, the show sounds like a school education film written by people who have no idea about what will work with their audience.
The overall message of the show is around the need for human contact that doesn’t have to be sexual to make our lives better. It gets its point across best when it uses stories that show the need for contact rather than when it just gives its messages directly.
Runs until 25 August 2019 (Fri, Sat, Sun only) | Image: Contributed