Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

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Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

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Felix Scott gives a panoply of excellent performances, from a brutal cop to a hopeless ex-husband, and there is enough vim and vigour to the production that when Isla announces that “this is, like, the best adventure ever! And there is a lot to enjoy in Lucy Morrison’s energetic and often funny production, whose set by Naomi Dawson is versatile enough to host what is in effect a Thelma-and-Louise-style road movie lit up by the neon glare of American culture, with a kinda Big Lebowski vibe. The piece runs out of steam before Isla gets a meaningful conclusion, but to Malone’s credit she handles the final scene perfectly; and made me care more for Isla than any other character. The carnival inspired set is designed by Naomi Dawson and attempts to encapsulate the madness of the world, but doesn’t quite pull it off because the text doesn’t delve deeply enough into the metaphor of capitalism as a circus. Despite Hope’s name, her story is tragic until the last as she leaves a streak of selfish destruction in her wake.

Director Lucy Morrison and designer Naomi Dawson give these opening scenes an effectively crazed, funhouse air, with a primary-coloured set and a gameshow wheel. Felix Scott is hilarious as the smooth talking Koka Kola Airlines captain, who multi-roles as Wayne the murderous cop (Wayne incidentally gets a national holiday in his name by the end of the play). Ali and Isla fall for each other and along the way the threesome find themselves unwittingly kidnapping Wayne – it turns out none have the stomach for cold blooded murder. The play does a decent job at attempting to answer some of those questions, where others are left lingering.At the very least you will have a brilliant couple of hours of theatrical entertainment with clowns, knives, guns, beautifully raw emotional dialogue, great performances, and some exquisite nightclub dancing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show at The Royal Court with a weak cast, and Hope has a Happy Meal is no different. Laura Checkley’s charismatic protagonist makes a delightful pairing with Mary Malone’s Isla as the two negotiate a feverish escape involving train toilets and unlikely underground resistance volunteers, picking up a depressed but terribly sweet forest ranger (Nima Taleghani) along the way. But in the People's Republic of Koka Kola – a world of dwindling resources, corruption and corporate giants – what happens to Hope?

Yet despite the infiltration of the market into everything and everywhere, Fowler argues that hope and happiness is still possible (just look at the title, which gets an ironic twist in the play’s ending). The second half is a skip through the months living together in the commune, dealing with humorous practicalities of keeping a hostage in the basement (someone’s got to empty the bucket), and watching Hope rekindle her frosty sisterly relationship with Lor.On their way to find the Strawberry Fields commune of Hope’s youth, they are joined by redundant forest ranger Ali, but things soon get very complicated. A nod to Annie May Fletcher is a must for their sound design; it is key to the fast pace of the piece, with transition sound effects aiding jumps forward in time. In this world, the old alternative communes have vanished, forests have been poisoned into sick wilderness, and Ronald McDonald bestrides the globe.

That’s because there are so many ideas and commentary woven into each scene and character, some of which contradict each other, that none shines stronger than any other. Follow Hope on a surreal and frenetic quest through a hyper-capitalist country in this new play by Tom Fowler , directed by Royal Court Associate Director, Lucy Morrison.

Amaka Okafor’s Lor is convincingly passionate, and the women are well supported by Nima Taleghani’s Ali and Felix Scott’s Wayne. I also like the psychological insights, expressed perhaps most directly in the clown game show sequence, and the drunken episode when Hope and Lor get plastered.

I really like the way that Fowler parodies the banal pronouncements of those in power, and his evident sympathy for the marginalized and the needy.Amaka Okafor is understandably incensed as Hope’s long time abandoned sister, who has turned to drink to drown her sorrows. Hope begins atop the set, before descending into the moral, ethical and relationship depths of chaos on the ground level, finally ascending as she completes her journey. While the narrative is strong and as an audience member I found Hope has a Happy Meal engaging and fun, I did struggle with identifying its key messages.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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