WE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY – Assembly George Square, Edinburgh.
In one of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe pop-up venues, on a set reminiscent of a children’s television show with Astroturf, gnomes and hot pink flamingos, Harry and Alice want to make you happy. Well, Alice does. This kitsch cabaret duo sing and dance their way through rainbows and Nietzche in a bid to bring a smile to your face by any means necessary.
The contrast between the unshakably perky Alice Keedwell and the stubbornly morose Harry Blake provides most of the humour. Keedwell’s singing exudes the virtuous goodness of Julie Andrews, while Blake’s off-key droning only adds to his glum demeanour, to great comic effect. All this is set against a backdrop of projected images, with glorious motivational-meme pictures juxtaposed with bon mots about how we’re all slaves to the machine of capitalism.
The multi-instrumental pair take us from 80s-style electro-pop to numbers that would be at home in a musical, and singing along is very much the order of the day. Their interaction with the audience is done with glee, but with the British tendency towards embarrassment, it takes a while for people to get past the awkwardness of publicly giving a compliment to a stranger (or even the person they’ve come with).
After the discovery that you cannot have happiness without sadness, Alice comes back to the realm of reality with a little bit of a bump, and Harry perhaps isn’t as miserable as he first seems. There’s a lot of hard-hitting stuff at the fringe this year, so a bit of light-hearted feel-good fluff like We Can Make You Happy is a welcome alternative to all that seriousness.
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By Gail Bishop
6th – 31st August 2015
Assembly George Square, Edinburgh, EH8