We live in a confusing world, a loud word full of what ifs and shoulds. You Are Happy, the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s season opener, criticizes one of those – the pre-conceived notion of love and being part of a couple. Written by Rébecca Déraspe, translated by Leanna Brodie and directed by Adrienne Wong, the play by no means takes a condescending stance. While satirizing modern relationships with an average turnaround time of two years, at its heart always remains our human need for connection and love.
The story is simple – after finding her brother Jeremy in her closet after another failed attempt at hanging himself for feeling hopelessly unloved, his sister Bridget decides to do something about it. She tricks Chloe, the first single woman she comes upon, to sign a contract leading to a relationship with Jeremy. The worst thing is that it works! The two unlikely lovers go through the motions of coupledom (while being stalked and directed by Bridget) and end up falling head over heels for each other. Whether this infatuation will last remains to be seen, but for now, they seem as happy as can be.
Director Adrienne Wong has done a good job of orchestrating a play that could easily become chaotic in the wrong hands. You Are Happy is a fast paced play full of strong personalities. Wong expertly creates a balance between the characters on stage and builds connections between them, scenes, and ideas.
The show has quite a few funny moments, due to the witty script and the comedic stylings of Mélanie Beauchamp (Bridget), David Brown (Jeremy), and Kate Bunting (Chloe). Brown and Bunting play well off each other, though Beauchamp’s shrill Bridget can sometimes go overboard to plain annoying.
John Doucet’s beautiful and functional set design, AL Connors’s sound design, and Chantal Labontté’s lighting design further tie the production together. The set design, in particular, evokes the different boxes already carved out for us, the pre-determined situations, we participate in, and actions we take.
You Are Happy is an interesting look at our need to feel love, even in a disposable culture. GCTC’s production delivers an enjoyable night at the theatre with solid acting and good directing and set design.