Theatre in Wales

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Reviewers Flock to Give Acclaim to Daf James' Play

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

On the Other Hand, We're Happy- Theatr Clwyd & Paines Plough , Roundabout @ Summerhall , September 2, 2019
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by On the Other Hand, We're Happy- Theatr Clwyd & Paines Plough If a return is made to Clwyd and Paines Plough there is a reason.

The domination of the Fringe by theatre for solo performers is relatively new. It was only a few years back that productions on average were made up of two, three or more performers. The all-within-an-hour straitjacket was slacker and not the rule. Scripts could breathe and twist and develop.

“On the Other Hand, We're Happy” breaches the fifty-five minute rule. It is no surprise that reviewers-, a dozen-plus over the full run- flocked to see what was a drama that was offering emotional complexity.

As for Daf James his return is overdue. He wowed audiences as a performer eleven years ago. “Llywth” was something of a landmark for the theatre of Wales and scored at Edinburgh in 2011. Audience reaction is recorded below 30th August 2011.

The reviewers continued to pile into “On the Other Hand, We're Happy” in numbers.

The Times and the Scotsman caught up with it a couple of performances before the end.

From the Scotsman

“Rarely amid this year's Fringe programme will such an uplifting and positively joyful play come with such a thick side order of tragedy.

“Abbie and Josh are a charming, exuberant and very real couple setting out on life together, setting up in a new house and hoping to turn it into a home for their family. Yet Josh is unable to have children, and so the pair decide to adopt; or rather, they enlist us to help them decide.

“Playwright Daf James' three-hander for Theatr Clwyd and Paines Plough is a fairly conventional piece whose greatest stylistic device in general is the manipulation of timelines, yet the moment at the start where the couple request that the audience help them vote on whether or not and under which circumstances they should adopt is a perfectly-weighted device to draw us into the grave and life-changing decision-making which this undertaking involves.

“It's both this neat twist, and to a greater extent the powerful and very likeable performances from Charlotte Bate and Toyin Omari-Kinch, which place us right in the heart of the story; and when the shock of an unexpected bereavement hits them, it lands in the hearts of the audience like a hammer blow.”

From Broadway World

“Daf James' script combines with Stef O'Driscoll's direction to make brilliant use of the Roundabout space. The venue is as much a part of Paines Plough's yearly presence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as the trio of new plays they commission.

“James incorporates it cleverly into his text, with Abbie and Josh asking the difficult questions about adoption direct to the audience: we are asked to vote on how they fill in the adoption form. It suits the round, and gives glimpses into just how difficult this process must be for those who choose it.

“The crux of the story comes without Abbie, as Josh continues the adoption process alone. Charlotte O'Leary plays both Tyler, the adopted daughter, and her birth mother. James continues to invoke the audience, with some members given questions to ask when Josh and the mother meet that she is too emotional to ask herself.

This scene is the play's crescendo, and both O'Leary and Omari-Kinch are fantastic. You feel fear, grief and hope in each of their performances. They are staged on opposite sides of the Roundabout, Omari-Kinch remaining largely stationary, with O'Leary moving all around her half of the circle, a ball of nervous energy and adrenaline.”

From Everything Theatre

“Tyler’s natural mother, Kelly – also embodied by a terrific Charlotte O’Leary in one of this festival’s most stunning portrayals.

“Director Stef O’Driscoll’s decision to intersperse dialogue with physical sequences allows the emotionally charged plot room to breathe, whilst giving the audience a chance to reflect. Already involved in the decision-making, we’re now challenged to imagine what we’d have done in Josh and Kelly’s situation.

“Top-notch performances from the whole cast effortlessly ensure that no side of the round is neglected. An engaging lighting design also works perfectly in this circular space, often adjusting to the scene both in intensity and temperature.

“And after an emotional rollercoaster that provokes as much laughter as many red eyes, the story ends on a cliff-hanger, leaving us on a positive note. On the Other Hand, We’re Happy is both heart-wrenching and uplifting. Just as great theatre should be.”

From Miro Magazine

“Tyler is the performance of the whole Roundabout season by Charlotte O’Leary. Here is another show that isn’t afraid to tackle the hard questions head on in the name of love and loss and devotion.”

From An Organised Mess

“And here the beauty of Daf James’s writing and Stef O’Driscoll’s direction come together. Involving the audience in the adoption process. The need to explore each aspect of their parenting and the choices and being of their potential child.

“On the Other Hand, We’re Happy is a fantastic piece of writing. Humour, happiness, grief and life are brought together by three fantastic actors. Peter Small’s lighting design adds to the atmosphere created through movement and moments. And there is a feeling and a reality that all which has been experienced won’t be forgotten.

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Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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