The MTC's latest offering, Happy Ending, is an intriguing look into inappropriate infatuation as Louise (Nell Feeney) continually puts herself in compromising situations in order to win the affections of her much younger Chinese masseur Lu (Gareth Yuen).
Apart from a few first night jitters, the cast including Keith Brockett (The Librarians) and Roz Hammond (The Micallef Programme, Thank God You're Here) were wonderful fun as they watched in fear and amazement as Louise gives into her obsession and attempts to seduce Lu through a series of awkward moments and far too many massages.
The cringe-worthy moments (put in for good measure I'm sure) became almost too much to bear as the 100 minute performance shuffled towards its conclusion at an extraordinarily slow pace. Perhaps it was the dreary suburban setting of Northland Shopping Centre, or the uncomfortable feeling of watching someone fall headlong into embarrassment with such enthusiasm, but Happy Ending seemed more miss than hit when it came to the crux.
An interesting look at Chinese-Australian relations, the use of media to translate was a wonderful idea, yet was poorly executed. Placing the translations so high on the set made it difficult for non-Chinese speakers to watch the action on stage and understand the script.
However, the set design was otherwise seamless and what appeared tech-heavy was ballet-like in its movement. The cast moved in perfect harmony to rearrange and reveal different versions of the space in what were moments of calm before another storm of humilation commenced.
Happy Ending was enjoyable on a shallow level. Titters at Chinese/Australian stereotypes and a desperate and dateless protagonist were in good fun, yet there was little (if any) deeper message. The wonderful ensemble cast kept the lackluster story going throughout a production that was more than a little dry.
Melbourne Theatre Company Presents
by Melissa Reeves
Venue: Southbank Theatre, The Lawler
Dates: 5th -22nd September