How To Be Amazingly Happy is a one-woman show, directed and performed by Victoria Firth, at Pleasance Courtyard. Victoria, also the Director of Yorkshire’s Lawrence Batley Theatre, is currently committed to bring joy, heart and truth to the theatre. That is why, How To Be Amazingly Happy, her first full length solo show and, simultaneously, her debut at the Fringe, is inspired by her very own experiences.
However, in spite of autobiographical motives, the show is very relatable and basically, anyone, especially a female part of the audience, could somehow identify with Victoria. A woman who finds out that she cannot have children tells a universal story about femininity, motherhood (or “motherness,” as Victoria herself defines it), about a constant battle between body and mind and about a quest for. . . Indeed, that is the question Victoria poses – what do we strive for?
From the first moment of the show, you can tell that Victoria herself is “amazingly happy,” while performing and sharing her story. Her great contact with the audience, facilitated by a small, intimate venue, makes How To Be Amazingly Happy personal and authentic. On one hand, it feels empowering and inspiring to watch Victoria showing her body, so much different from the social media standards we are accustomed to, yet beautiful and strong, and casually admitting her flaws, mistakes and failures.
On the other hand, however, the way the story is told seems slightly literal and infantile. Victoria, in clown’s costume or in an apron, symbolizing her various life experiments, looks cartoony and overdrawn. As much as impressive it is to watch her changing the costumes in a blink of an eye, at some points, How To Be Amazingly Happy and its staging are reminiscent of a high school show. Moreover, the jokes are stiltedly funny whereas Victoria’s reflections, told by her voice from the off, sometimes sound like banal motivational quotes from Instagram.
Probably, you are not going to be amazingly happy after seeing Victoria Firth’s solo show because it depicts bitterness and struggles of life in a non-revelatory way. However, if you are willing to watch an honest story of an honest woman, How To Be Amazingly Happy at Pleasance Courtyard is a show for you. Maybe you will manage to find the answer to the titular question.