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Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)   

Written by Robert Caisley
Directed by Elly Green
at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru March 16  |  tickets: $30-$35   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
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Inauthentic and uncertain


Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)


Redtwist Theatre presents



Review by Lauren Whalen 

There are wonderful, memorable plays, and there are plays that leave me scratching my head and asking, “Why does this exist?” Sadly, Robert Caisley’s Happy falls into the latter category with a resounding thud. Even the talented cast and excellent set design can’t overcome a shoddy script that tells an oft told story, but not nearly as well as others have and continue to do.

Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)
Set over the course of one dinner, Happy begins when happy-go-lucky Alfred (Michael Sherwin) arrives at his friend Eduardo’s (Michael Kingston) apartment and is met by Eduardo’s new girlfriend Eva (Amanda Powell)…wearing only a towel. Eva is decades younger than Eduardo and a talented artist – her work is displayed all over the apartment – but she’s prickly and confrontational. When Alfred’s wife Melinda (Melonie Collmann) joins the party, Eva intensifies her efforts, swilling hard liquor while relentlessly grilling everyone at the table and forcing them to confront their personal definitions of “happy”.

Sound disturbingly like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I thought so too. To be fair, many argue that there are only about five stories in the world. I can understand and respect that, but each “retelling” should add some sort of value or at the very least, give a reason for existing. There are so many stories like Happy, of guests at a dinner party who are pushed to their mental and emotional limits. Not only is Happy cliché, it makes very safe choices despite its supposedly “gritty” exterior. Can someone besides the perky suburban mom be a target of an unsatisfied alcoholic woman? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an unexpected ending to a social gathering gone bad, as opposed to the predictable breakdown of the most chipper guest? Another not-really-a-surprise: everyone has skeletons in his or her closet – thanks for the revelation.

Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)

There are a few bright spots: Ross G. Hoppe’s set makes the most of Redtwist’s lovely small space, and creates a convincingly cluttered apartment with an appropriately claustrophobic feel. Director Elly Green does an excellent job with her quartet of able players. Collmann is the strongest performer of the four, with her accurate and often darkly funny interpretation of Melinda, a woman whose default expression is a smile but who’s battled many domestic demons. As long-suffering Eduardo, Kingston is endlessly patient, until he isn’t. Redtwist company member Sherman is convincing when showing Alfred’s cheerful side, but his ensuing drunken accusations ring a bit over-the-top and false. And as perpetual instigator Eva, Powell makes the most of repetitive source material, channeling a perfect blend of prickle and vulnerability.

There’s no shame in updating an old story, but it must be done with purpose. If a play is only as good as its script, Happy is just not worth the effort. It’s a shame, because the cast and crew deserve better than such weak source material.


Rating: ★★



Happy continues through March 16th at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $30-$35, and are available by phone (773-728-7529) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at More information at  (Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission)

Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)

Photos by Jan Ellen Graves




Melonie Collmann (Melinda), Michael Kingston (Eduardo), Amanda Powell (Eva), Michael Sherwin (Alfred)

behind the scenes

Elly Green (director), Alicia Hynes (assistant director), Allison Queen (stage manager), Olivia Leah Baker (assistant stage manager, costume designer), Ross G. Hoppe (set designer, tech director), Eric Vigo (lighting designer), Daniel Carlyon (sound designer), Kelly Schaub (prop designer), Sean M. Hogan (sculpture artist), Jan Ellen Graves (graphic designer, photos, co-producer), Jessie Chappe (casting director), Charles Bonilla (box office manager), E. Malcolm Martinez (box office associate), Johnny Garcia (box office associate, associate producer), Michael Colucci (co-producer)

Review: Happy (Redtwist Theatre)


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