‘Are You Happy?’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 29, 2017

‘Are You Happy?’ is a black satire by playwright, Scott McAteer. Scott was hatched from an egg in Hobart, and after gaining his degree in Tasmania, left to live in Melbourne with his girlfriend and dog. Being a stand-up comedian, he reached the State Finals of the Raw Comedy festival.

The Black Martini Theatre Group, a Perth theatre company that is committed to putting on ‘new and exciting shows’, is presenting this quirky play. This presentation can be seen at Studio 411, near car park 4 in Murdoch University grounds, South Street, Murdoch. The half hour shows are each evening at 7.30 pm until Saturday 30th September.

The scene is a community hall. The set is a table with cloth over it, and a wooden chair. Stage manager Shannon Precious.

Injeong Hwang operated John King’s sound and lighting design.

 

       A nervous young man, Tom (Jonathan Maddock) arrives for his ‘liberate your inner self’ class. He sits down and anxiously awaits the co-ordinator. A few minutes later, an energy-packed man, Mr Price (Philip Hutton) bounces into the room.

Mr Price can see that Tom is not simply troubled, but that he is tortured and inwardly collapsing. Mr Price discusses the causes, and promises to show Tom how to clear all his problems away – in several unconventional ways.

Mrs Price (Shannon Precious) makes a cameo appearance at the end.

Although Shannon did very well, I am sure she will not mind me saying that this is virtually a two-hander play. With only 30 minutes in which to build a situation, and have the audience genuinely feeling sorry for the ‘client’ was a major task for Jonathan and the director, Jessica Serio – but they succeeded wonderfully. Philip is magnificent in parts where he can be eccentric, and here he was at his best.

A minor suggestion. No matter how good the play, and it was very good, perhaps you are being a little bit optimistic expecting people to travel to a theatre on a cold, wet night for a half hour presentation. The price was brilliant, but a second play by Scott – and he has some as short as 10 minutes, with worldly issues such as schizophrenia, gender roles, social isolation, masculine identity and terrorism – would have seemed more worthwhile to those thinking about going.

Glad I caught this play; it was a fun show that succeeded perfectly, congratulations to all.