Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review: 'In the Republic of Happiness', Royal Court, 10th December 2012

Crimp’s latest offering opens with a promise of traditional festive fare. The dysfunctional family, porn guzzling Grandpa, two daughters, one pregnant, one volatile, deaf father and harrassed mother; have all united to bicker incessantly over their Christmas Dinner. This is until all is swiftly overturned by the arrival of the toe-curlingly unsettling ‘Uncle Bob’ (Paul Ready). Events turn progressively sinister as conversation nauseatingly begins to hint that this new visitor may be both Uncle and Father to the new addition to the family. 
For Crimp’s next bombshell, Miriam Beuther’s (incredible) set blasts open to make way for what appears to be the set of Jeremy Kyle. ‘The Five Essential Freedoms of the Individual’ is on a screened backdrop as all the cast members take a seat and proceed to talk over each other…for about 45mins, with musical interludes sung by the cast members
Needless to say, Crimp has no intention of breaking out Christmas Pudding and The Snowman in the Royal Court this year. However, chaotic, music-infused ‘Happiness’ somewhat loses momentum after the first 15 minutes of ‘Jeremy K’ time. Whilst one can see the merit in throwing an audience into an uncomfortable endurance test, I found myself disenchanted and bored with characters that had held such promise in the first half hour. Admittedly, given Crimp’s unabashed comment on the relentless, hollow pursuit of ‘individuality’, removing the characters’ quirks is probably the point.
Whilst I think I ‘got it’, the most telling comment I can make is that my only thought at the curtain call was deciding whether I needed a wee or not. Considering Crimp’s incredible preceding work, I was disappointed not to feel a mite challenged or unsettled as I left. 2/5