Jack Rooke won a scholarship to attend Westminster University to study Journalism. Like all good students, he spent the next three years drinking, dabbling in drugs, dancing and discussing Harry Potter. He also made friends; the kind of friends who last a lifetime and the kind of friends whose lives are tragically short.
Jack Rooke: Happy Hour isn’t so much a one man show as it is docucomedy theatre
Rooke bounds onto the stage and welcomes us to his Happy Hour and immediately launches into a list of loved ones (family and pets) who died. He’s going to use this show as a letter to someone he deeply cares about and to say the things that he didn’t say in person. We then learn about the people he came to love and, in some cases, initially hate during his time at Uni. Ably assisted by Ben, his Underbelly stage manager, Rooke uses projections, post-its and framed photographs to tell his tale. He’s adorably self-deprecating about his time in a spoken-word collective, his coming to terms with his sexuality and desperate awkwardness as a first-year student.
The real subject of the piece is Rooke’s friend, Olly. We’re introduced to him in a disgusting student nightclub as Rooke attempts to network his way into his own uni radio show which Olly manages. A later need for a disciplinary chat leads to the two hitting it off and, over many a drink, becoming friends. For this is a show about friendship and following Rooke’s journey is hilarious and heart wrenching in equal measures. He uses his charm and wit to tackle the subject of mental health and manages to do it without ever preaching, nagging or pleading. He holds up a shining light to the fact that these things need to be discussed without judgement or prejudice and that that change needs to begin right now.
Jack Rooke: Happy Hour isn’t so much a one man show as it is docucomedy theatre; Rooke shows that there’s plenty to laugh about in this serious subject and, just when it gets too emotional, there’s always some fabulous dancing.