Wasatch Theatre Company: Happy | Rose Wagner Center | Theater | Salt Lake City Weekly


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Wasatch Theatre Company: Happy Staff Pick

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 22 2014
Phone: 1-801-355-2787
Price: $15
One moment comes close to defining Happy in totality, for better and/or worse: Near the play's conclusion, one character embarks on a lengthy and brutal monologue, under the impression that another character has been lying. It becomes clear fairly quickly that the indignant character is mistaken, and that the other has been telling the truth; the former is due to the script telegraphing it, but the latter is due to the actor in question giving a performance of such complete commitment that it gives away the ultimate resolution just as much as the obviousness of the writing. Robert Caisley's script isn't entirely bad, but it is a bit stiff structurally, and provides its actors with rudimentary starting points for performances rather than fully realized characters. Fortunately, Brian Pilling, Alyssa Franks, George Plautz and Michelle Linn Hall take what they're given in the script and run with it. Indeed, Happy is a showcase at once for the limitations of naturalistic dramatic writing, and the possibilities for acting within the same form. The story—about how a college professor's best friend's new girlfriend manipulates the professor into the admission that he's not as guilelessly content with his life (and wife and sick daughter) as he would have everyone believe—is less interesting than the way the actors twist the material's contrivance into fascinatingly real moments. The result is a compelling piece of theater—so ultimately, how we arrive at that point may be less important than getting there at all. (Danny Bowes)
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