Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?), Battersea Arts Centre

Review: We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?), Battersea Arts Centre

Published in Time Out, 08.03.2012

Do a little dance. Chug another Bud. Get down about Haitian earthquakes, Indonesian tsunamis and starving Africans. That’s the secret to Western happiness, according to this 50-minute pocket-rocket from emerging artists Made In China, which sets out to expose empathy as a sham.

Guzzling beer and forcing down ice-lollies, almost to the point of choking, two best friends forever wallow in the world’s suffering. They dance, faster and faster, to David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. They hope that we’re happy, as long as we’re one of them. The rest can go hang. Global inequality suits us fine.

The show’s other line of thought, which sees performers Chris Bailey and Jessica Latowicki covered in flour and ketchup like ghosts of 9/11, follows Mel Brooks: tragedy is when I cut my finger, but when a natural disaster befalls your country, that’s comedy. They munch popcorn and watch the world burn.

Drought-dry and drenched in irony, ‘We Hope That You’re Happy’ is a performance piece shot through with liberal guilt, only just saving itself from sanctimony and self-loathing. It’s also admirably fierce, thanks to Tim Cowbury’s punchy, poetic text and the awesome – not to mention, stomach-churning – commitment of its two performers. However, articulate though their protests are, Made In China’s absolute idealism ultimately feels adolescent.

Photograph: Made In China

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