Remember Club Penguin? How about MySpace or MSN? There isn’t a piece that embodies the art of Millennial social media better than this. Happy Meal transports you back to a time where it was normal to list at least 50 of your favourite bands or films- across all genres- on a page in the hope of finding someone interesting to talk to. Through the exploration of online identity, and the beauty in storytelling about the euphoria of claiming our happiness and individuality, this piece is ultimately a dose of joy from start to finish: beginning with being greeted by a penguin as you enter the auditorium.
It isn’t all that easy though. With some major downs and dysphoria in their friendship along the way too, Bette (Tommi Bryson) and Al (Sam Crerar) spend years in each others’ company discovering what life means to them, but doing so completely over the internet. Sat in large speech bubble-style clouds, the pair message back and forth their smallest thoughts and deepest secrets… or so they thought. After feeling the connection flourish, a trip to a music festival was supposed to bring them both together in real life for the first time, but instead had difficult consequences.
Jamie Fletcher's direction brings so much life to the intimate space, and projections on the set aid the understanding of time passing. As they get older and the technology advances too, the audience invest themselves in the journeys of Al and Bette. Tommi and Sam's performances are clearly heartfelt and thoughtful as they give meaning to the script. Tabby Lamb's writing is wonderfully crafted to reflect the growth and transition through the characters, with the transgender representation being absolutely vital, and exhibited with tenderness.
Happy Meal seems essential viewing for trans folk, and everyone else alike. This contemporary viewing ends in a charming way that will leave you reminiscing on the socially constructed expectations that require breaking to achieve true contentment. Whoever you are, this show will give you a good giggle, and possibly even bring a tear to your eye.