Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★
Part cabaret, part performance art, part musical comedy, House of Blakewell’s new show is hard to describe, but whatever you call it, it’s very good. We are greeted by an eerily cheery Alice (Alice Keedwell) and a very sombre Harry (Harry Blake). They are in a small, pink and fuzzy wonderland, projecting images of cheesy jubilation. Alice tells us that she’s found the way to make herself happy and she’s here to show us how. Harry, having just gone through a break up, is less convincing.
Alice walks us through the insights she’s gathered on her journey of self contentment, singing hilarious songs like ‘Positive Reinforcement’ and compelling her audience to stamp out the sadness in their lives (literally). Harry occasionally interrupts with much more melancholic comments, blaming capitalism, privatisation and our obsession with consumerism for our constant unhappiness. It’s quite hilarious to have the contrast of Keedwell’s unflappable cheeriness and Blake’s dead-pan pessimism. Their comic timing is spot on and the songs are just as amusing. If you dread audience participation, avoid the first few rows. House of Blakewell is more than happy to bring you into the show.
This piece is different in that there’s emotional as well as intellectual depth. We are walked through philosophical and economic explanations of happiness, and are meant to reflect on how we relate to happiness in our modern culture full of Buzzfeed lists, TED Talks, Tumblr blogs and Tinder. Alice’s delusional optimism is a joy to watch, even when the inevitable cracks start to show. It’s a great way to spend an hour and you won’t be disappointed.
House of Blakewell/Vicky Graham Productions