Funny, touching and technically outstanding, Tabby Lamb’s Happy Meal is a delicious snack that will leave you craving more.
Cleverly scripted and superbly performed, Happy Meal is just the right mix of relatable nostalgia and coming-of-age story. We are introduced to Alex and Bette as they meet online during the early days of dial-up, then travel with them as both they and the media they communicate through develop. From MSN to Insta and everything in between, this is a meaningful play that gives insight into the freedom that the digital space offers to each, as well as the darker recesses of the cybersphere.
Allie Daniel is endearing and engaging from the outset, showing Bette’s confident virtual persona from the moment she greets the audience. Sam Crerar’s Alex is likeable and energetic, bounding across the stage to their first meeting in Club Penguin. With Daniel Denton’s superb visuals and Ben Stones’ impactful set design, the two characters develop their relationship and identities in the relative safety of their progressive social media accounts. While Alex reveals early on that they are trans, Bette is not yet comfortable doing so, which leads to some significant conflict and heartbreaking revelations.
It is clear that, together in electric dreams, they can both express their true gender identity without the risks that are present IRL. Lamb’s script is astute and full of sincerity, smoothly transitioning from the light-hearted to the hard-hitting elements. Both Daniel and Crerar have fantastic energy and presence, and you instantly root for both of them, willing them to find the outer confidence that each has online.
While you are waiting for them to just reach out to the other, and to find true acceptance, it is clear that both characters have their own journey and need to move at their own pace. Their real-life meeting is delayed to the last possible moment, culminating in a poignant final scene. Deftly directed by Jamie Fletcher and with dynamic lighting by Kieron Johnson, Happy Meal is a delightful production that will leave you feeling fully satisfied.
By Deborah Klayman
Happy Meal plays at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh until 28th August 2022.