Alex Moggridge as Johnny, Mollie Stickney as Bea, Mark Anderson Phillips as Miles, Kevin Rolston as Carl, and Rosemary Garrison as Kitty in Lucinda Coxon's Happy Now? at Marin Theatre Company through December 5. Photo by Ed Smith

HAPPY NOW? by Lucinda Coxon, directed by Jasson Minadakis. Marin Theatre Company, Boyer Theatre, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941. 415.388.5208 or www.marintheatre.org. Through December 2, 2010


Marin Theatre Company (MTC) has mounted three hugely successful plays in the past year and the opening scene of Happy Now? on Melpomene Katakalos’s fabulously designed multi-area set backed up by Wesley Cabral’s video projections and Andrew Hurteau’s bravura performance portended another triumphant evening. However, it was not to be, even though the cast is a who’s who of local theatre and Minadakis’s direction is more than his usual best. Lucinda Coxon has delivered a clichéd-filled soap opera script that is almost salvaged by the many positives mentioned. The setting is present day London and the period of action is about two months.

Coxon’s protagonist is Kitty (the marvelous Rosemary Garrison in her debut at MTC) juggling her professional, family, social and emotional life who meets Michael (Andrew Hurteau, who invests the role with authentic charm) a smooth tongued, not to too attractive lover of women whose pick-up lines are so unique and delightful in the play’s opening scene. The pick-up is unsuccessful but Coxon slips in a foreshadowing line, “I’ll bet you don’t kiss your husband anymore” that becomes prophetic.

At home, we discover that Kitty has two young unruly (off-stage) children and is the breadwinner with a husband Johnny (fine acting by Alex Moggridge) who gave up a job as a lawyer to become an altruistic teacher. Johnny’s best friend Miles (surprisingly an over-the-top Mark Anderson Phillips) an alcoholic is in a strained relationship with his beautiful wife Bea (Mollie Stickney does wonders in the under written part). Kitty also has the emotional problem of not knowing why father deserted her mother. Unfortunately, her father is surgically besieged and hospitalized thus, she is never able to ask him “the question.” Over the time-line of the play, dear daddy’s off-stage surgical besiegement includes a toe amputation, an abdominal aneurysm and carotid artery occlusion with subsequent stroke. Just for the record, Kitty let us know, “The doctor’s says it’s a miracle!”

Bea sends Miles packing and he, to Kitty’s consternation, moves in with Kitty, Johnny and the kids. Friction is rampant. Two of the best written scenes are dream sequences where Kitty meets her mother (played in perfect subdued drag by Hurteau) with fantastic moving cartoon graphics accentuating the unreality.

Then there is Carl (great acting by Kevin Rolston), a 40tyish openly gay, prominent lawyer confidant who is in love, living happily, off-stage, with a non-English 20-year-old pool boy. He is the symbol of sanity amongst the turmoil until the boy leaves and Carl’s predicament parallels that of the straight couples. Coxon is obviously an equal opportunity writer?

Kitty’s job with a charity organization comes to an abrupt end and in the penultimate scene attempts to put the make on Michael who is the epitome of decorum and after a tender kiss orders her to “be happy.” It is a touching scene just before Kitty returns home to sit between Miles and Johnny watching a mindless re-run of “Will and Grace.” The look in Garrison’s eyes is strong affirmation that the answer to the title question, “Happy Now?” is a resounding “No.” Running time about 2 hours with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com