Reasons to be Happy*** (Hampstead Theatre)

Posted: March 25, 2016 in Theatre

reasons to be happyComing to the second play in a trilogy without having seen the first can present problems. Neil LaBute’s quartet of American 20/30-somethings first appeared in Reasons to be Pretty and, in this continuation of their mildly comic games of relationship musical chairs, the first challenge is not how to get to know them, but finding a reason to want to get to know them. Tom Burke’s dithering bookworm Greg is torn between his ex, volatile and selfish Steph (Lauren O’Neil) and Carly (Robyn Addison) who revels in martyrdom in her role as a working single mother, abandoned by her partner, macho and casually violent Kent (Warren Brown). Given the choice between these two irritating women, the play from Greg’s perspective could have been titled “Reason’s to be Gay”. Indeed, it is Greg’s perspective that most engages LaBute, turning him from an indecisive wimp into a man with a clear vision of how to find happiness. The success of Michael Attenborough’s production relies heavily on an engaging star performance by Burke who makes Greg’s transformation seem real. Soutra Gilmour’s set is like a container crate that swivels round and opens out on both sides for quick scene changes. Opening and closing strongly, the production needs more fizz in the middle scenes. Overall, there are plenty of reasons why this play is entertaining, but few reasons for there to be a stampede to find tickets for parts one and three in the series..

Performance date: 23 March 2016

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