Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

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Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

Hope Has a Happy Meal (NHB Modern Plays)

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She dominates scenes in the most unsuspecting of ways, empathy and sincerity etched across her face. That the characters live in an ultra-capitalist society where all landscapes and landmarks have been bought by conglomerates has no real bearing on the plot, except when characters get to say silly place names like Disney Quarry, Samsung Central and Nike International. Lor is angry with Hope because she feels betrayed and abandoned when Hope left — and 24 years is a long time to wait for reconciliation.

The People’s Republic of Koka Kola is a dystopian capitalist cess pit – a country which used to be a democracy and is now dominated by the most powerful brands representing the most extreme form of capitalism. On their way to find the Strawberry Fields commune of Hope’s youth, they are joined by redundant forest ranger Ali, but things soon get very complicated. There are some fantastical moments, including a bizarre gameshow hosted by a makeshift Ronald McDonald which doesn’t add anything, and some soap opera drama cliches are thrown into the plot (think Chekhov’s gun) which don’t feel fully earned. He gives the actors lots to work with, and Royal Court Associate Director Lucy Morrison adds physical flair and playfulness to the piece. A nod to Annie May Fletcher is a must for their sound design; it is key to the fast pace of the piece, with transition sound effects aiding jumps forward in time.

Felix Scott is hilarious as the smooth talking Koka Kola Airlines captain, who multi-roles as Wayne the murderous cop (Wayne incidentally gets a national holiday in his name by the end of the play). In the Upstairs studio space, we arrive in the People’s Republic of Koka Kola, formerly the UK, a hilariously lurid police state where freedoms are acutely curtailed and consumer capitalism is totally dominant. However, there is an underlying unease in this hyper-capitalist world, and a lurking menace that threatens the lives of all of Hope’s companions. Disney Quarry, Facebook Forest, and BP Nature Reserve all feature on her surreal, tragic, and redemptive journey via Koka Kola Railways. Hope has a Happy Meal plays at The Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs space until Saturday 08 July.

All we end up learning is that everyone is finding life hard right now, what with climate change, fascists and whatnot. Perhaps its strongest message is about community togetherness and the power of people, though it never doubles down. Along the way, Wizard of Oz style, they meet a scarecrow – sorry – forestry worker (Ali) who is depressed at losing their job when it’s revealed Facebook Forest will be cut down and replaced by flats.Fowler’s writing has an instantly appealing brightness and energy, and his renaming of places reveals the ubiquity of big corporations in a nation ruled by a CEO rather than prime minister: Nike International, Samsung Central and Mitsubishi Parkway. Hope begins atop the set, before descending into the moral, ethical and relationship depths of chaos on the ground level, finally ascending as she completes her journey. Despite Hope’s name, her story is tragic until the last as she leaves a streak of selfish destruction in her wake. Director Lucy Morrison and designer Naomi Dawson give these opening scenes an effectively crazed, funhouse air, with a primary-coloured set and a gameshow wheel.

The second half is a skip through the months living together in the commune, dealing with humorous practicalities of keeping a hostage in the basement (someone’s got to empty the bucket), and watching Hope rekindle her frosty sisterly relationship with Lor.In this world, the old alternative communes have vanished, forests have been poisoned into sick wilderness, and Ronald McDonald bestrides the globe. Laura Checkley’s Hope and Mary Malone’s Isla are nicely contrasting characters, and the early comic scenes are the strongest in the play. It's an opening that works by holding its nerve, building up the humour by leaving us not knowing where it’s going. The play does a decent job at attempting to answer some of those questions, where others are left lingering.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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