Happy Hour

HappyHourChild copy

Happy Hour: Shelley Theatre, Boscombe. (Friday 21st April, 2017)

Poor Bernie! The dream of running a pub has turned sour. He’s been so busy trying to make his once failed hostelry, The Toby, family-friendly that his own family has fallen apart.

His wife is drinking herself to death and his ten-year-old son has been so neglected that social services are on the case.

This ambitious one-man show from Something Underground Theatre has garnered much praise for writer/actor Jonathan Brown but sadly his trip to The Shelley last night (Friday) fell rather flat.

Happy Hour may have been hailed a classic piece of fringe theatre elsewhere but it clearly needs to engage with its audience. Playing to around 40 people, it simply failed to connect.

As a piece of acting it is a tour de force with Brown playing not only the hapless Bernie but an impressive array of other characters including son Teddy, wife Margaret, the regulars at the pub, a social worker, a school teacher, a manager from the brewery, a taxi driver, the admissions officer at the local hospital and even a pair of thugs wielding baseball bats.

It should have been funny, poignant and sad and to an extent it was all of those things but much of the nuance was lost. The pace faltered and areas of black humour failed to raise more than a polite titter.

This performance of Happy Hour, played on a bare stage with virtually no props, found Jonathan Brown delivering occasional flashes of brilliance but more often than not he seemed in a desperate race to the finishing post.

I can see how this play would work supremely well in a festival setting, particularly with an audience who’d had a drink or two. On this occasion though it never found its mark. A shame!

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022