08 July 2010

Review:Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After
La Mama
7 July 2010
La Mama Theatre
to 11 July

Jane Miller's beautiful and complex writing stood out at the Short and Sweet and Melborn short play festivals.  Happily Ever After is her first full-length work and is firmly placing her as one of Melbourne's must-see playwrights.

Lizzie and Ben are trying for a baby, Ben needs to convince Chloe to leave her house before his boss Dave gets the police,  Dave is trying to make Ben take charge of his life, and Chloe just wants to be left alone.

These characters have lost so much or have so much more to lose than they know and as their secrets are revealed or kept, each face a life of compromise while wishing that – just once – they were enough for their loved one.

In letting her breaking souls try for a miracle happy ending, Miller brings recognisable and complex emotions to the stage and shows them through a highly original story. In a mix of fractured fairy tale (the Prince dies alone because he won't take Cinderella at her word) and harsh reality, she balances the despair with hope and the bitter heartbreak with bitter-sweet comedy.

Director Beng Oh, who also stood out at Short and Sweet, deftly captures the frustration of relationships and the tone of the writing with composed pacing and by letting the cast embrace their character archetypes without losing their uniqueness.

Mike Frenchman (Dave) and H Clare Callow (Chloe) are the emotional counter balances to Paul David-Goddard (Ben) and Marnie Gibson (Lizzie). Frenchman's prick who thinks he's a mentor lets us laugh and Callow's distraught Chloe lets us wallow, as Ben and Lizzie try to find a way to be as happy as they pretend to be.  Lizzie could be easy to hate, but Gibson brings understanding to her actions and never lets us feel sorry for her and David-Goddard brings a complexity to Ben that lets us see the internal fight between letting himself feel and "manning up" to the world.  The last time I saw David-Goddard perform, he reduced me to tears (in An Air Balloon Across Antarctica); this is an actor who deserves a lot more attention.

Fortunately, Melbourne theatre goers are recognising the wonderfulness of Happily Ever After and a new show has been added on Sunday at 3pm because the remaining nights are selling out. This is theatre that wakes your heart up, so call La Mama and grab a ticket now.

This review appears on AussieTheatre.com.


  1. Stage Managed by Phoenix!

  2. Stage Managers rarely get reviews, but we know that every time a show runs perfectly, it's because there's an awesome SM at work.