How long before a woman rubbing grated apple on herself loses its supposed existential meaning and simply becomes a woman playing with a bit of fruit? Awkward Happiness investigates.
A piece of striking physicality, the incredibly toned actors move around the stage. The trust between them apparent, the stage gorgeous, Awkward Happiness is aesthetically pleasing and sensual, let down only by its incredibly vague script that fits in between the dance. The physical performance is undermined by a sequence of seemingly nonsensical conversations with the audience that seem to tackle concepts such as beauty and relationships, but that do not coherently express related ideas and concepts.
Four performers introduce themselves on stage and move between each other. Perfectly synchronized, they are fluent in physical theatre. From their physique to the construction of the stage, as flour is tossed around creating a stunning snow-like effect, they are impressive. The play is initially engaging and the minimalist use of props coupled with the competent dancers is stunning to watch. As the four sit in front of a screen, their silhouette highlighted, the visual art is captivating. The slick combination of physical theatre, dance and art is worth a ticket in itself.
What is happiness? Awkward Happiness doesn’t provide an answer, or indeed many questions. Its lyrical moments of dialogue act well standing alone, but put together simply just don’t make much sense. Apparently inspired by Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Bruckner’s Perpetual Euphoria, it watches more like a perfume ad than anything else.
Bruckner said that the idea of happiness is despicable in its ambiguity, and there is “nothing more vague”. In its remarkable vagueness, Awkward Happiness has succeeded, but its being lost in the depths of the unclear isn’t as much thought-provoking as it is confusing.
Awkward Happiness plays Summerhall until August 22 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website.