Happy Yet?

Linda McLean after Georges Feydeau
The Gate, Notting Hill
(2004)

Happy Yet? consists of four mini-farces by Georges Feydeau, updated and linked rather like La Ronde (or The Blue Room). In total, they last 90 minutes and each is presented with great style.

The set, designed by Told By An Idiot's Naomi Wilkinson, is a white space with a bed, a ladder and several sets of blinds replacing the more traditional doors. There is also Gareth Duncan-Scharfe's clever sound design that almost becomes as important as an extra character.

Into all of this, Ed Woodall directs the four plays, all of which thrive on sexual politics and embarrassment. He specialises in the physical and the carefully choreographed, and, at times, the style eclipses the farce.

The first playlet features a pregnant wife with a selfish, ineffectual husband and dragon-like mother. The second replaces birth with death, as a wife, played by Lucy Robinson, has to contemplate the death of her mother, hardly assisted by her unsympathetic husband. The last relates the intermittently humorous tale of a politician and his wife who is given to exhibiting herself to the world.

The undoubted highlight is the third farce. This is a very funny comedy of how seven-year-old Toto, played with just the right degree of sang froid by Leah Fletcher, manages to wreck his father's business.

With doting mother and frustrated father desperately trying to get him to behave, the little chap eventually forces the customer to imbibe a laxative with obvious consequences. To make matters worse, his mother then gives away the poor man's status as a cuckold.

Ed Woodall has created a very stylish evening of physical theatre and, in the third play, creates a modern farce that really works. However, elsewhere the comedy is sometimes allowed to take second place which is a pity for the good ensemble cast.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher