How to Make me Happy
Lion & Unicorn Theatre
Reviewed – 30th July 2018
“there was a genuine dialogue between the performers and the audience that was in no way forced or artificial”
The Camden Fringe has officially begun! Monday had a full programme of shows to kick off the festival, with one of the last of the day being Hatch It Theatre’s production of ‘How To Make Me Happy’. This show mixes physical theatre, audience participation and improvisation, as three nameless characters who are trapped in a world where ‘happiness’ is enforced attempt to free themselves by answering a simple question; What makes us really happy?
As we ascended the stairs of the Lion and Unicorn, every audience member was given a coloured post-it-note, and upon entering the room a robotic voice instructed us to write down things that made us happy. This was a very gentle and amusing way of getting the audience warmed up for a show in which they would be heavily involved. Then, the show started, and the fun began! The performance centred on three characters, suffering from sudden paralysis, whose only means of movement was to make themselves truly happy. They had clearly been in this state for a while, and the actors presented the relationships between them superbly. All three provided high energy, specific character choices and urgency, and it was thrilling just to watch them talk to each other. As the show progressed, and their attempts to make themselves happy faltered, they started to get some help from the audience.
Audience participation carries with it the dangers of making an audience uncomfortable, and the performers not getting the responses they want. This was not the case with this show. Instead, all of the audience were made to feel welcome, and free to get involved. All of us were invited to participate in games that the characters played to make themselves happy. Our notes were read aloud, audience members were rushing on stage, and there was a genuine dialogue between the performers and the audience that was in no way forced or artificial. The often stuffy and lonely environment of a theatre was replaced with something truly unique and enjoyable.
Performances like this, and the overwhelmingly joyous reaction of the audience, reminds me that this is the type of theatre that modern day audiences crave. Theatre-goers, and indeed everyday people, are in dire need of communal, shared experiences. The play touches beautifully on how we are often so afraid to admit the little things that make us happy, and indeed I fear that potential audiences may see the description or title of this play and decide that it is too silly or juvenile. Don’t be put off, as the show is not an attempt to spoon-feed happiness to the audience. It is simply a beautifully crafted platform for the audience and performer to really talk, and maybe even find some happiness together.
Reviewed by Edward Martin
Photography courtesy Hatch It Theatre
How to Make me Happy
Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 31st July
as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018