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A CurtainUp London Review
Reasons To Be Happy
These four including Kent (Warren Brown) paired and split up in the first play. Steph has now married someone else, Carly and Greg are seeing each other and Kent has another girlfriend, the unseen Crystal. Little else has changed. Kent and Steph still work at the warehouse and so does Greg although Greg has some teaching sessions as well. He has gone to college following up his interest in literature and is qualifying as an English teacher.
Greg is approached by Steph who declares she is still in love with him and he seems to reciprocate these feelings despite now seeing Carly. Greg personifies the ambivalent man. He hesitates from telling Carly about going back to Steph and when Carly announces her pregnancy, he ducks out of the situation. Meanwhile Steph has ended her marriage on the strength of one meeting with Greg. Messy - yes it is! Why? At least in part, because of Greg's desire not to hurt either woman but he ends up doing just that in his indecision.
Greg has set his sights on another goal. He is looking for a full time teaching post. This will be his leg up, away from a job in a warehouse or part time supply teaching and this is more important to him than any relationship. The fact that it is miles away doesn't prevent him asking both women to go with him. How could he think that could work?
Tom Burke, with his deep purring voice, is the only person from the 2011 cast to reprise his role but the other performances support his excellent depiction of procrastination. Steph seems too volatile, Kent is boorish and Carly keeps getting pregnant Five years is rather too long for a sequel to emerge but that may be to do with director Michael Attenborough no longer being at the Almeida and having to find another venue. Soutra Gilmour's container truck set is something I remember being equally effective in 2011. I think I would be interested in the future play of the main characters from my favourite, The Shape of Things.
I am surprised that Greg hasn't been snapped up by a fellow teacher who might share his literary interests but maybe that is what will come with the third play tentatively called Reasons to be Pretty Happy. This middle play may suffer from the middling problems of the middle child, a transition to something that will be recognisably the brilliantly sharp writing of Mr LaBute which will make me pretty happy.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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