The risks of growing up in a disadvantaged background, with its lack of opportunities and education, prevail over genetics as one of the worst stigmas affecting children given up for adoption. Drug consumption, alcohol abuse, lack of self-care and poor mental health are implicitly ascribed to societal failures rather than individual judgement. It’s this issue of adoption that is explored in Daf James’ On The Other Hand, We’re Happy.
Josh and Abbi (Toyin Omari-Kinch and Charlotte Bate) are a young couple like many others. In love with each other, they go clubbing and occasionally share recreational drugs. In the hazy atmosphere of the Roundabout at Summerhall, we see their relationship evolve, quickly going from buying a house to planning a family.
The devastating news that they can’t have biological offspring is promptly replaced by a heated debate about adoption. They pick-and-mix features they’d want their child to have, as well as those they wouldn’t be willing to accept. The fourth wall suddenly crumbles as they elicit a raise of hands to see who’d be happy to adopt a HIV-positive baby. When they finally seem to find a suitable match in little Tayler (Charlotte O’Leary), a dramatic course of fate leaves Josh alone to carry on with the process. This includes a meeting with Tayler’s natural mother, Kelly – also embodied by a terrific Charlotte O’Leary in one of this festival’s most stunning portrayals.
Director Stef O’Driscoll’s decision to intersperse dialogue with physical sequences allows the emotionally charged plot room to breathe, whilst giving the audience a chance to reflect. Already involved in the decision-making, we’re now challenged to imagine what we’d have done in Josh and Kelly’s situation.
Top-notch performances from the whole cast effortlessly ensure that no side of the round is neglected. An engaging lighting design also works perfectly in this circular space, often adjusting to the scene both in intensity and temperature.
The fast-paced direction and upbeat script make seventy minutes go past in a jiffy. And after an emotional rollercoaster that provokes as much laughter as many red eyes, the story ends on a cliff-hanger, leaving us on a positive note. On the Other Hand, We’re Happy is both heart-wrenching and uplifting. Just as great theatre should be.
Author: Daf James
Director: Stef O’Driscoll
Producer: Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/on-the-other-hand-we-re-happy
Booking Until: 24 August 2019