By Lucinda Coxon
Directed by Roger Smart
Produced by Shattered Globe Theatre
At Stage 773, Chicago
Flat and contrived British drama a tedious affair
Lucinda Coxson’s Happy Now? will not contribute to giving you a couple hours of bliss but it will only leave you says “Hah.” This contrived drama is the story of a group of married folks going through midlife married crises. Add a guy confident and a quirky mother and you have a mind-numbing play. The stage is awkward and the British accents all sound alike with Christina Gorman (Kitty) speaking so fast that her words overlap to the point of us not being able to understand her. Best they don’t use British accents if they are going to sound so false and incoherent.
The story finds Kitty and her husband Johnny (Steve Peebles) having troubles in their marriage since Johnny left a lucrative law practice for a high school teaching assignment. Kitty is struggling with a time consuming position with a charity and her dying father. Bea (Courtney McKenna) and her alcoholic husband Miles (Drew Schad) devise a joint project the help bind their marriage. Carl (Karack Osborn) is the gay friend to the couples and he acts as Kitty’s confident.
The story get off to an incredulous start as the self-assured and obnoxious Michael (Ben Werling) aggressively attempts to seduce Kitty into a sexual encounter at a business seminar. He is a “creepy sad-sack guy” guy (Kitty’s words) but she continues talking to him and even has a drink with him. I fail to see how a beautiful woman would ever give such a creep more than a slap in the face. Yet Kitty is somewhat taken by Michael’s reverse psychology. Could her marriage be so unhappy? Michael points out that after a few years, most married men don’t kiss their wives.
We also see how Miles’ drinking destroys his marriage and how Carl’s gay stories become the blunt of tasteless jokes. We see Kitty and her friends as they are running out of time for making the big changes they desire to salvage some bliss in their lives. This show is suppose to be a dark comedy yet I found little to laugh at – only a group of folks whose failure to either communicate with one another or be truthful seems to doom their relationships. Structurally, the play has a series of uneven scenes that are building toward something then, suddenly, the play ends. Hah? But by that time, I had lost interest since the characters appeared to be zombie-like folks caught in their self-made relationship traps. Maybe if they communicated their feeling better, their relationships might be saved. I just couldn’t relate to the premise as stated. The actors were too aware of getting their British accents correct at the expense of pace, articulation and clarity. There just isn’t enough here to be stage worthy.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 27, 2013
For more info checkout the Happy Now? page at theatreinchicago.com
At Stage 773, 1225W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-327-5252, www.shatteredglobe.org, tickets $28, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through March 2, 2013