Verbatim theatre can be hard-hitting and grittily real, driving home personal perspectives on an event or discussion and letting the truth speak for itself in order to make a point. However, without cohesion or a focused subject, verbatim theatre is no longer verbatim theatre but just a group of actors saying things that other people have said; potentially in the way these other people have said them. Without focus, other than a broad and unachieved aim to ‘[stumble] across the words Anna has lost’, this play stumbled indeed. It fell flat without any real point, other than a muddled attempt to ‘put real life onstage’, as one of the characters pointedly and meta-theatrically stated.
Aside from the lack of focus or direction, there were some moments that were enjoyable. Although the multi-rolling of the characters was predominantly confusing, character performances were strong by all of the cast members. Accents were often used effectively, and at moments humour was employed successfully. The realistic speech was carried off well on the whole although some of the portrayals of different characters were too similar, adding to the confusion of the piece as a whole. The set was minimal, made up of wooden crates, a variety of everyday objects in jars, and a backdrop of kites. There were silent projected videos of various different people, presumably those who had been interviewed for the verbatim material, however these were too dim to figure out what was going on most of the time.
This play of non-sequiturs felt like reading uninteresting Facebook profiles of strangers I don’t care about. Following this random collection of stories and anecdotes, the final words were the reference to life as ‘a beautiful mess’. I would say A Happy Side (As Well) was indeed a mess, though without enough redeeming aspects to be beautiful.