Happy Dave

Bloody Happy Dave. I can’t lie, it sounds bad on paper: office boy reclaims the glory days as a DJ. He was good, he tells us. His raves were the greatest in England, or they were until the bilious Criminal Justice Act of 1994 that outlawed them.

close to excellent and insanely polished for a Fringe show

Cut to present day: Dave’s a Canary Wharf man in an ad agency. It’s no less a charisma industry, the ad game, but it’s ultimately not for him. Instead, he’ll band together the young and disenfranchised and give them something he thinks they’ve never had: happiness. Not garden happiness. He’s talking of happiness as freedom from worry. And you know what? You might feel that way by the play’s end.

It’s not an original structure. It’s basically The Wrestler with rave DJs, yet the vigour in the direction and performance gives it momentum. On occasion, it’s worth ignoring plot for other traits. Though some criticise Happy Dave as having an anti-millennial bent, one must remember that this is a character speaking, and not playwright Oli Forsyth; one must consider the context of why he’s saying it. Of course, more nuance in his message would be welcome, to probe more into the generational divide it spots.

Happy Dave is close to excellent, however, and insanely polished for a Fringe show. The company, Smoke and Oakum, have a cast of five, and together they rouse; they are nimble handlers of quick-fire dialogue and humour. It’s favourably comic when it wants to be too, letting you gloss over the plot, which is a tad protracted.


With some tweaking, this would be the perfect show for a London transfer. Zeitgeisty, angsty and joyful, Happy Dave is tragicomedy in Oscar-bait clothing, the kind of inspirational tale commonly nominated for Best Film. Andy McLeod as the eponymous ‘happy’ Dave will beguile you, thrill you, then leave you before ascending his rig to be the “messiah of a lost generation”. Just don’t take him too seriously. 

Reviews by Oliver Simmonds

Quaker Meeting House

One for the Road

★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Taiwan Season: Solo Date

★★★
Summerhall

All In

★★
Spotlites

Single Varietal

Summerhall

Camille

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Ears on a Beatle

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Dave used to be a DJ, and not just any DJ, he spent his 20s filling fields and dropping beats for thousands of young revellers flocking to the 90s rave scene. All good things must come to an end so now, aged 45, he finds himself working in an advertising firm selling things he hates. However, old habits die hard and soon Dave is leading a group of young millennials, disenchanted with the lot of Generation Y, back into the fray. Follow up to Smoke & Oakum's 2015 hit show Cornermen. 'Thrilling' **** (Scotsman). **** (Stage).

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets