Happy Together – The Lincoln Company
4th-29th August (not 16th), 18:15
C Cubed (Venue 50)
Taking a look behind closed doors into a dysfunctional relationship, Happy Together follows the story of a particular couple, Alex and Jess, from their first meeting. This play explores the theatricality of reality and the idea that people might always act differently from how they really are, even around a loved one, and for questionable motivations.
Happy Together draws a peculiar line between reality and theatricality. Whilst most people go to the theatre to watch a performance, Happy Together makes the audience and the act of being in the theatre, a part of the play. Happy Together is set in both the present, at the theatre, and various times in the future, in a bedroom; whilst this is confusing at first, the audience soon got the hang of it.
The performance opens with the writer, Kate Newman, coming onto the stage and explaining that two people will be picked from the audience to be in the show. Jess and Alex (Emily Bickerdike and Linford Butler, respectively) are the two selected. As the play progresses it becomes obvious that it is all staged, yet at the start this wasn’t clear and you could sense the relief from the rest of the audience that they hadn’t actually been asked to participate.
The play takes place in multiple different time periods which are intricately interwoven throughout the play. In the present, at the theatre, Alex and Jess read off of cue cards as they are simply audience members who have been asked to participate. In the future, the action onstage is much more natural because it is real. The use of bells to separate the present from the future was a nice touch because it added a clear division between the different times, this was aided by the changes in lighting.
The set is initially a girl’s bedroom, however as the play progresses the set disappears as we move backwards in time from the year 2020 back to 2016, not long after the characters met. Although at points the acting seemed a little wobbly, both Emily and Linford were very committed to their roles and it was especially nice to see them go back to being the nervous audience members at the end of the show.
Whilst Happy Together is a risky idea, its experimental nature largely paid off. From the start, the audience didn’t know what to expect and that’s often what you want in a fringe show. Well-written and brilliantly acted, I would recommend this show to anyone looking to try something different.