On the Other Hand, We’re Happy is a new drama from renowned Welsh playwright, Daf James, kickstarting it’s national tour at Plaine Plough’s Roundabout venue at Summerhall. An appropriately intimate venue for an incredibly delicate exploration of a myriad of themes ranging from grief, loss and masculinity to love, companionship and, most importantly, the modern perception and process of adoption.
For an hour-and-a-quarter piece diving into such a weighty theme and personal journey for every character, James’ writing has the graceful fluidity that many other scripts couldn’t possibly possess. Accompanied by Stef O’Driscoll’s slick and dazzling direction, what comes is what can only be described as a well-oiled storytelling machine that guides the audience through an intense and emotional thrill ride.
On the Other Hand, We’re Happy is performed by three undeniably gifted performers presenting six excellently constructed characters, each one deeply dynamic and compelling. Toyin Omari-Kinch leads the show as Josh with a grace and effortlessness as well as a sensitivity towards the subject that is apparent through his language, both verbal and physical. Charlotte Bate is great as Abbie with her satirical nature towards the character, however properly shines as Emma, Josh and Abbie’s social worker. The character’s neutrality keeps the most intense scenes balanced and dramaturgically consistent. The third actor, Charlotte O’Leary is not introduced as Tyler/Tyler’s birth Mother until a fair bit into the piece, at the point that the audience could safely assume that the piece was a two-hander, however spends the rest of it stealing the whole damn show. Her bleak humour and excellent sense of sensitivity towards both of these characters is deeply moving and what truly makes the piece as powerful and respectful as it is.
Arguably the most impressive and captivating element of this already stunning show is the immaculate lighting design from Peter Small. Illustrating the stages of grief as well as the process of panic attacks and the unexpected speed of growing up through bright, rapidly cascading lights, with accompaniment from Dominic Kennedy’s urgent and moving sound design is the cherry on top of this delicious theatrical cake.
On the Other Hand We’re Happy is quite simply a triumph. An honest, beautifully tender story of how such an important subject as adoption affects every party involved that asks and answers the biggest questions in the same sitting. With every member of this team giving their absolute all and it well and truly paying off, this is a piece that you cannot afford to miss.
Main Image Credit: REBECCA NEED-MENEAR