19
Jun
13

Happiness

Happiness

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

The J Theatre

18th & 19th June 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

195b7_417458

Roland Makepeace (Mark Lee) knows what makes people happy. Why wouldn’t he? He’s an eminent professor of psychology who has devoted his life to scientifically investigating human well-being. But his theories are sorely tested when his wife Hanna (Anne Tenney) meets an old suitor Sam (Peter Kowitz) and his daughter Zelda (Erica Lovell) threatens to go right off the rails. This sharply observed comedy suggests that theory can sometimes fall well short of reality and that finding happiness is easier said than done.

 

It’s very funny – you’ll laugh and laugh – but you’ll also empathise with the characters. What I love is the irony of this professor of happiness surrounded by unhappiness when he’s done everything right. 
Only David can bring us this kind of irony.

DIRECTOR: SANDRA BATES

 

The Queensland Premiere of David Williamson’s new comedy, Happiness, happened without the playwright and his wife, Kristen in attendance, which was strange, making the night less of an occasion than it might have been with them there. It’s a pity that an overseas trip clashed with The Noosa Long Weekend Festival. It’s always such a pleasure to see them.

 

Happiness hasn’t been received well down south and that leads me to tell you that, unlike in previous years, the play has had its Australian premiere in Sydney, at Ensemble Theatre’s home in Kirribilli. That may not be widely known. “How lucky we are to be the first to see David’s work” was among several comments heard after the show. I didn’t correct the guy…

 

I guess I’m not a big fan of Ensemble Theatre, however; you know I’m a huge fan of David’s, and I usually enjoy his plays. And there it is. I love the writing of this one too – it’s sharp, funny, and typically Williamson, which you either love or you hate – it’s the treatment that baffles me. And by baffled I mean I don’t understand how Ensemble Theatre and Artistic Director Sandra Bates, can do exactly the same thing with great new material year after year.

 

The text is totally current; it’s sharp, witty, funny, and overflowing with wonderful social commentary and close observations about life and love and complicated relationships. Sure, we’ve heard a lot of it before, but I love the way Williamson offers a fresh take on tired old gender and political issues. The characters are complex and yet we see one layer only of each. Except for Mark Lee, who plays Roland, and to a certain extent Anne Tenney, who plays his wife. The character seems to be written for him, such is his authenticity in the role. I would like to say the same of the rest of the cast but when I see these performances, I feel like shouting out “STOP ACTING! And Chill!”, which is something I find myself saying to student actors when I perceive them to be trying too hard.

 

Despite my misgivings, the opening night audience LOVED the new Williamson, as they always do. In fact, Stephen and I were sitting behind a party of people who were almost overcome with emotion, who gushed and would like to have seen it again today.

 

Tonight is the final performance by Ensemble Theatre of David Williamson’s Happiness as part of the Noosa Long Weekend program. If you love David’s work, you must see it somewhere, sometime.

 

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Happiness”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: