Written by Tabby Lamb. Sydney Festival. Eternity Playhouse. 17-24 January 2023
Tabby Lamb’s Edinburgh Fringe hit, Happy Meal, is bringing showers of joy to Sydney Festival (before heading to the Perth Festival in Feb). This sweet trans-romantic two-hander is a bright, bubbly piece of confection that blends the sour with the sweet to really hit the spot.
Alec and Bette are best friends who’ve never met in person. Their purely digital friendship has spanned the early days of online gaming, to chat, to MySpace, to Facebook, to Twitter and beyond. They share stories of their lives as they grow, finish school and head off to university. The digital sphere is their safe space and Alec uses this safety to reveal to Bette that he’s a trans man. But when they arrange to meet IRL at a music festival, Bette is nowhere to be seen…
Happy Meal fizzes with energy and joy, but still has sharp teeth. Lamb excels at exploring the freedom of the internet and the frailties of the communications we have there. From one-sided social media posts, inadvertent ghosting (damn internet issues) and the deep conversations you can have more easily when you’re not in the same physical space.
What could have been a static dialogue is brought to life with swirls of projection by Daniel Denton and a charming stage design by Ben Stones and some excellent sound design by Eliyana Evans. But the visceral emotions are delivered by the duo of performers, Sam Crerar and Tommi Bryson. Lamb’s quick witted dialogue feels effortless as the two bond without ever really sharing the same space on stage.
Happy Meal knows when to hit a serious note too, and that mix of anticipation and excitement that comes with all ‘firsts’ gets the audience in the feels. You can really feel both Alec and Bette’s fear of disappointment rising with each mini-scene.
Decidedly British (not that that specificity will get in the way, but expats will definitely catch a couple of extra laughs) and just a short, sharp 60 minutes long, Happy Meal is easy to digest and even easier to love. Don’t miss it. It’s a total treat!
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