The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings











See links at top of our Main Page







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
Reasons To Be Happy

"I promised myself that I wouldn't kill you if I saw you. " — Kent
Reasons To Be Happy
Lauren O'Neil as Steph and Tom Burke as Greg (Photo: Manuel Harlan )
Like the first play of this offshoot from the "beauty plays" Reasons to be Pretty, Reasons to be Happy opens with a couple arguing intensely with rather too many examples of the F word for the audience at the Saturday matinee at Hampstead to be entirely comfortable. Steph (Lauren O'Neil) has just found out that her boyfriend of three plus years ago is now seeing her friend Carly (Robyn Addison) and is incensed.

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.
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to Curtain Up and from what part of the country.
Reasons To Be Happy
Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by Michael Attenborough
Starring: Tom Burke, Lauren O'Neil, Robyn Addison, Warren Brown
Designed by Soutra Gilmour
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick
Sound: Fergus O'Hare
Fight director: Terry King
Running time: Two hours with an interval
Box Office 020 7722 9301
Booking to 23rd April 2016
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 26th March 2016 performance at the Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, London NW3 (Tube: Swiss Cottage)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Reasons To Be Happy
  • I disagree with the review of Reasons To Be Happy
  • The review made me eager to see Reasons To Be Happy
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2016, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from