Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
Happy Ending, MTC Sept 7, 2012 **
Happy Ending by
Melissa Reeves, Melbourne Theatre Company
Studio, MTC, Sep 5 to 22, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 7, 2012
Published online Herald Sun Tuesday Sept 11 and in print later this week.
Fanny Hanusin & Nell Feeney in Happy Ending
WHEN THE PROGRAM CREDITS a Mandarin language coach and massage tutor, it’s not a stretch to guess that Melissa
Reeves’ play, Happy Ending, features Chinese masseurs.
Susie Dee directs Reeves’
tissue-thin, situational comedy with light-handed humour and a sense of the
absurdity of the plot and characters.
Louise (Nell Feeney) is 40ish
and married with a toddler but is tormented by her ridiculous sexual obsession
with a young, Chinese masseur, Lu (Gareth Yuen), who works in a massage shop in
the soulless Northland shopping mall.
This premise might make a
much shorter play or situational sketch, but with its insubstantial plot,
two-dimensional characters, repetitive dialogue and limited dramatic
development, it lacks the substance for a 90-minute play.
There are certainly some
big laughs and mighty groans at the expense of the characters whose dialogue is
peppered with jibes at the modern woman, politically incorrect, racist jokes
(both Western and Chinese), and
some utterly tasteless
humour about Louise’s fantasies about animals. Yes, really!
While Feeney works hard
as yappy, stressed Louise, her character is so driven by her idiotic goal to
bed the young masseur and she looks so demented, that we cannot sympathise with
Fanny Hanusin is a
marvellous, comic caricature as Jie, the smug, rude massage shop owner, Yuen is
elegant and diffident as the relentlessly pursued Lu, while Keith Brockett, Roz
Hammond and Christopher Connelly play multiple comic roles.
There is nothing erotic
about this potential affair or Louise’s fantasies, so don’t expect a theatrical
version of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Andrew Bailey’s stylish
design captures the Asian style with its huge, modular and translucent paper
Happy Ending is
ultimately an unsatisfying play that relies heavily on cheap gags about
unrequited sex/love at the expense of story and character, repeating itself
until it reaches its oddly contrived ending.
... continued after publication online Herald Sun Monday Sept 10.
By Kate Herbert
Director Susie Dee Set and Costume Designer Andrew Bailey Lighting Designer Katie Sfetkidis Composer Ian Moorhead CAST
Keith Brockett (Wen/Jun), Nell Feeney (Louise), Roz Hammond (Liliana), Fanny Hanusin (Jie), Jim Russell (Alec/Jeweller), Gareth Yuen (Lu)