Chicago Theater Review: HAPPY NOW? (Shattered Globe at Stage 773)

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by Lawrence Bommer on January 28, 2013

in Theater-Chicago

A DAISY CHAIN OF DEAD ENDS MAKES FOR INVIGORATING THEATER

Shattered Globe Theatre has uncovered yet another tailspinning drama to live up to its name. British playwright Lucinda Cox shows a strong good grasp of dead ends, whether in conversations or in characters. In this sardonic black comedy – with the ironic and accusatory title Happy Now? – Cox centers her “dark night of the soul” on Kitty Warrington (frenzied Christina Gorman), a mother who is at the end of the proverbial tether. Cowed Kitty must balance a job as a marketer/mother with two kids and contend or content herself with husband Johnny (Steve Peebles), who sinks himself into teaching commas to blank-slate kids; his hard-drinking, boorish friend Miles (Drew Schad); Miles’ rooster-pecked wife Bea (Cortney McKenna); their gay lawyer/chum Carl (Karack Osborn); and, worst of all for Kitty, her controlling and hypochondriac mother June (Linda Reiter) who has ceased to care for Kitty’s dying, unseen dad.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Shattered Globe’s HAPPY NOW? At Stage 773, Chicago

The one disconnected character here – a necessity to this plot – is a middle-aged commercial traveler named Michael (Ben Werling). Kitty meets this sly soul at a hotel conference. Despite their age difference, Michael confidently predicts that she will sleep with him, if only because his offer will stick in her head until she agrees to merge. Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy or just one of those things?

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Shattered Globe’s HAPPY NOW? At Stage 773, Chicago

The power that Michael holds over Kitty is, as the French say, Faute de mieux, meaning “for lack of anything better.” Slowly but unstoppably, Kitty is getting crowded out of her own life. Carl breaks up with his gorgeous Greek boyfriend Tony and loads his troubles onto hers. After getting kicked out of his home by Bea, Miles ends up living, precariously, with Kitty and Johnny. Nobody likes her cooking but the booze she offers is willingly drained. Enough. Midway through the play Kitty erupts in an anguished, rhetorical question: “Is this my one and only life?” Well, there’s always a tryst with Michael.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Shattered Globe’s HAPPY NOW? At Stage 773, Chicago

Cox offers no happy escape from all these middle-class, mid-life crises of creativity, fidelity, communication and conscience, just the daily details of all these emotional cul-de-sacs. It sounds more depressing than it plays. Happily, Roger Smart’s well-honed, richly textured Chicago premiere fits these survivors like a glove: There should be enough shocks of recognition among audience members to keep this vital and immediate.

photos by Kevin Viol

Happy Now?
Shattered Globe Theatre at Stage 773
scheduled to end on March 2, 2013
for tickets, call (773) 327-5252 or visit http://www.ShatteredGlobe.org

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

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