Monday, 17 December 2012
Theatre review: In the Republic of Happiness
Dad is joined by his parents, his wife (Emma Fielding) and daughters Hazel (Ellie Kendrick - Tom's werewolf girlfriend from Being Human) and Debbie (Seline Hizli - seemingly the Royal Court's go-to actor for pregnant teenagers) and there's a surreal tinge to their conversations: Grandma (Anna Calder-Marshall) has had to pop to the shops to buy porn for Grandad (Peter Wight) because he doesn't trust the online stuff; and Debbie's pregnancy seems to have been rewarded with a shower of gifts from her parents.
Pinning down the meaning of Crimp's play is hard, although it certainly deals with many of the middle-class preoccupations and hypocrisies that have been a focus of Dominic Cooke's tenure as Artistic Director (Cooke also directs here.) In the Republic of Happiness has a definite satirical vein that touches on selfishness, entitlement, pop psychology and the inability of some people to find happiness despite having so much in their lives. The final sequence, which I actually found the least engaging but is at least the shortest, sees Bob and Madeleine in wherever they went off to at the end of the first scene, a place where they seem to have "subjects" Bob lectures to - perhaps this is the Republic of the title, and even here Bob can't be happy.
much worse is currently being excreted onto the Upstairs stage of the same theatre. I'm quite glad I saw In the Republic of Happiness if only to join in the debate about it. But I doubt the newspaper critics will be getting a great deal of thanks from the readers they've so enthusiastically pointed in its direction.
In the Republic of Happiness by Martin Crimp is booking until the 19th of January at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes straight through.