Welcome to happy world? Well, it’s not happy and you’re not welcome – especially if you’re the sort of kid who shouts out, “you’re not a real wizard!” at Fredrico the wizard!
Written by Thomas Giron-Towers and Grant Martin, Welcome to Happy World takes us behind the scenes at a fictional theme park – where jolly giant animals and colourful characters sing and dance to entertain the children.
As the show starts, we get the full-on Happy World experience and it doesn’t disappoint. Singing the infectious “Welcome to H.A.P.P.Y. World,” amidst swirling theatrical smoke, a wizard, a giant bee and a pink princess are joined onstage by a blue creature who looks like the spawn of a smurf and … er … maybe the bee? And finally, there’s a cockroach! Now he’s got to be a bad guy!
Things are not so jolly in the staff room however. Robert the coked-up bee bursts in complaining that he’s dying for a shit, Parker the two-timing cockroach boasts that he made a kid cry by pointing at her and Alison, the blue creature who turns out to be a giant teardrop, is widely believed to have stolen Parker from his previous girlfriend, the pink princess Jess who has nicked £800 from the Chairman’s wallet. David the wizard is a deluded acTOR in the grand tradition, who goes off the rails and punches a kid when he fails an audition for the part of Richard III.
There is another musical interlude when the staff are asked to improvise their own show and end up with a bizarre performance based on one of David’s rejected anime scripts. It’s all very surreal and enjoyable and I would have welcomed more songs but there was so much to get through in an hour.
Will Parker be found out and get his come-uppance? Will the police arrive before the end of the grand finale? What are the terrible and inevitable consequences of not having a functioning staff toilet? Has Robert really broken the first rule of Happy World? And why is he in the wrong costume?
The set is minimal – a sofa, a table, a chair, a staff toilet sign and, of course, a long list of Rules for Happy World. The cast are clearly enjoying themselves and do a magnificent job. Helen Peters is cynical and worldly-wise as Jess or Princess Delightful; Craig Berry booms and dominates the stage as David or Fredrico the wizard; Gary Wood is sneaky and duplicitous as Parker or Cock Roach Randy (Oh yes, I forgot to mention the smutty puns!), Vikki McAuley is sweetly naïve as Alison or Miss Droplet and last, but definitely not least, Samuel Michaels does a great comic turn as Robert the Merry bee.
Definitely not one for the children, Welcome to Happy World picks at the scabrous underbelly of chidrens’ entertainment. And eats the scabs!
Unfortunately, Welcome to Happy World has finished its Camden Fringe run at the Hen & Chickens but you can follow them on Twitter @wel2happyworld or on Facebook/WelcomeToHappyWorldMusical for more information and future dates.