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Happy Hour

ensemble theatre · waffles & eggs + venice symphony orchestra · Ages 16+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by GORDON MEACHAM

June 12, 2016 certified reviewer
tagged as: drama · musical · live band · bar · twenty somethings · angsty

What I liked

Excellent, down-to-earth performances. Straight drama is really difficult to pull off well, but Happy Hour was pulled off elegantly. Musical interludes, something I usually roll my eyes about, were well thought-out and added to the feel of the piece in a way that surprised me. At the end of the show, I thought, “duh, they’re at a bar, of course there’s a band,” and I realized that I had suspended my disbelief and felt like I was seeing the real thing: a couple knots of friends at happy hour talking about where life was leading them. Really well done.

What I didn't like

Man, that is a tiny space to have that many people in, not that you can do much about that in a Fringe venue. The struggles the characters went through are pretty stereotypical and the moral of the story seemed incredibly on the nose (i.e. one character is giving up on dreams to go to another city and start in real estate, another is sticking with it, an artist in a relationship with a person with a stable job, etc.). I think that the script could have had one or two more revisions to add more nuance to the characters.

My overall impression

Happy Hour had some really stellar performances and compelling musical interludes. While the plot needed a little ironing out, the actors gave each character the depth and honesty only given by committed artists. I really, really enjoyed the voyeurism of the whole thing and seeing a mirror of the Los Angeles acting community. The play made no apologies for the hypothesis that “no, you probably won’t make it as a famous artist,” and I enjoyed that brutal honesty. I would not, however, recommend drinking after the show; you may find yourself incredibly depressed. A very compelling, tight piece of theatre that I really respected.

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