Have A Nice Life
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 21st Aug 2006
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Take six social misfits with relationship worries, throw them into group therapy, and then you have the basis for Conor Mitchell's brilliant musical Have A Nice Life.

This is an exceptionally insightful piece of theatre - delving into the problems of the characters' love lives to offer some keenly observed, and often profound, dialogue on counselling.

But the script pulls no punches - frequently going straight for the jugular with bitingly funny one-liners. Mitchell's score - like that of his Victorian fairy tale, Goblin Market (which made a critically acclaimed debut at the Fringe last year) - has tones of Sondheim dissonance. It also exhibits similarities with William Finn's March of The Falsettos, and, like that show, Have A Nice Life uses a single piano accompaniment.

But the real shocker of this show is that it's performed by 17-18 year-olds who are batting way above their weight in the talent department. The best compliment I can pay these guys is that I seriously thought I was watching a professional production until I read the programme after the show.

The entire cast are exceptional - delineating Mitchell's diverse characters beautifully. Their performances are grounded and focused and Ian Good's intelligent direction clearly has teased the best out of this young group.

Simon Sharp's musical direction has realised a challenging score - no mean feat for even a professional cast, but especially noteworthy considering the age of the players.

Cressida Carré choreography surely also deserves praise for its quirky brilliance - jazz hands and all.

In fact, save some very minor and forgivable acoustic problems in the space, I could find no fault with this production and I heartily congratulate the entire cast and crew for serving up one of the most delightful gems I've seen on the Fringe this year.

Even though it's easy to pick a well known musical out of the Fringe Programme, Art Education Tring Park are proving that there are much better shows not that far off the path.

Hey, you might even get some therapy too.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

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The Blurb

C Venue 34. 20-28 Aug. 20:00 (1h30)