The pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right of every human being and it is this basic right that David Williamson’s characters follow, with very mixed results, in his new play simply titled HAPPINESS.
Mark Lee plays Professor of Psychology Roland Makepeace (pun intended) who believes that he has a pretty good handle on how people can achieve happiness. His daughter Zelda (Erica Lovell), now a young woman, is going through lean times and seeks his counsel. The ever wise Roland tells her that she needs to communicate her feelings better and advises her to put her feelings down in writing and then express them openly to people she cares about.
Dutiful daughter follows her distinguished father’s advice and ends up with plenty of egg on her face. She stirs up old romantic feelings in dear friend Ronnie (Adriano Cappelletta) who she hasn’t seen for many years…Her boss Evan (Glenn Hazeldine) reprimands her and announces that she is on the verge of being sacked. So much for wise old Dad….
The big fella has copped a bit of a hammering in the reviews department over this latest play. Yes it is true that it is not one of its finest, and he does cover old ground, the woes of the bourgeoisie and the messy relationships that people find themselves in, nevertheless HAPPINESS entertains well enough, there are plenty of zingy one-liners, and the great man sure knows how to get an audience in. I couldn’t see one spare seat in the performance I went to.
It’s a boost for actors to play every night to a good house and they all deliver vibrant performances, Mark Lee and Anne Tenney as the husband and wife, Erica Lovell as their daughter, Peter Kowitz as Anne’s old flame, Glenn Hazeldine as Erica’s boss, and Adriano Cappelletta plays two roles as one of Erica’s nervous colleagues and in the other role an old, dear friend of Erica’s.
Sandra Bates helms the production with the feature being Brian Nickless’s very contemporary design, with modular furniture, the use of multiple monitors to take us to different locales, the letters to happiness lit up in a neon sign, and some smileys and frowns hanging across the stage.
David Williamson’s HAPPINESS plays the Ensemble Theatre through till Saturday July 6 and will also plays the Noosalongweekend Festival for three performances on June 18 and 19.