Happy Family

Date 4th January 2018
Society Wick Theatre Company
Venue The Barn Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Tony Brownings


Author: Dee Sharpe

One of the things that make attending a production by the Wick Theatre Company is the charming welcome by the front of house team, all in black tie or evening gowns which creates a superior ambience from the outset. As I settled in my seat I could not help feeling that the Barn Theatre, with its stone, brick and beamed interior is a wonderful venue.

For “Happy Family”, the Barn Theatre stage became a wonderfully authentic 1960’s lounge with stairs leading to bedrooms and a door to the kitchen. One of the props was a very un PC 1960’s toy; a bit of a kick against the current trend to erase certain aspects of history maybe?

The play is a darkly comic play about siblings, two sisters and a brother who are locked into the relationships they had as children. This is evident when they get together, as they revert to childish squabbles, tantrums, threats, made-up languages and games. The action takes place in Deborah’s cottage where brother Mark comes to stay, closely followed by sister Susan who introduces another element into the mix, her fiancée Gregory who is keen to become part of the family.

From the outset I was completely hooked; giggling one minute and on the edge of my seat the next. The claustrophobic, comic, yet sinister atmosphere of this play was executed perfectly by Emily Hale as Deborah Solstice, Dan Dryer as the brother Mark (Bark), Lyn Snowdon as his sister Susan and Mark Best as her hapless fiancé Gregory. The play’s success is dependent on each role being performed by talented actors that ‘get’ the play and can entirely inhabit the role of vulnerable adult children, interacting as children, to make each believable and draw the audience into their actions and antics. The actors (and of course the director) succeeded admirably.

Dan as Mark was stroppy, bullying menacing and babyish by turn with great expression and vulnerable boy-like body language. Lyn as older sister Susan seemed at first to be more adult than the others, which made it doubly creepy when her childlike elements leaked out. Emily Hale was utterly convincing as gauche youngest sibling Deborah, cavorting around with an innocent heart and childlike sense of humour. Mark gave a winning performance as fiancé Gregory floundering around to find his place in the midst of this highly eccentric family. The interplay between the characters, the choreography and timing were seamless

The play was riveting; daft, funny and menacing, with a certain pathos; a perfect blend of ingredients for a hugely entertaining, thought provoking evening.