We Can Make You Happy

‘A good way to be happy’, Alice Keedwell tells us, is ‘you’ve got to silence the critic inside your head for a moment or two’. As a reviewer, this is a difficult thing to do. Critiquing a show about happiness seems pedantic, barbaric even. And yet it has to be done, because if this show teaches us anything, it’s that all feelings are valid. Happiness and sadness. Laughter and anxiety. Living in the moment, and analysing every moment to death.

We Can Make You Happy offers practical philosophy for the BuzzFeed generation.

This emotional balance, reached by the end of the show, is not initially apparent. The stage is littered with rainbows, unicorns, garden gnomes, and oversized papier-mâché flowers in a parody of happiness. As audience members filter in, Keedwell hands out pieces of paper with ‘positive thoughts’ typed out on each one. Her honey tones lead a repertoire of memorable melodies, and her wide-eyed persona is convincingly maintained.

The pinch of salt in this sugary extravaganza is the second half of House of Blakewell, Harry Blake. As Keedwell beams at the audience, Blakewell plays the piano wearing a deadpan face – and a unicorn hat. Throughout musical numbers, tap-dancing, and a bit of spoken word, Blake maintains his sardonic expression and flat voice. For every happy statement from Keedwell, Blake injects a cutting comment (‘choice is an illusion’). His poetic ruminations avoid cliché, articulating feelings of love and misery using bizarre chemistry-based metaphors. He wishes he were a noble gas, because ‘then I wouldn’t need anyone.’

A meditation on happiness, loosely tied together by a romance plot, We Can Make You Happy offers practical philosophy for the BuzzFeed generation. House of Blakewell intersperse recorder solos and dance routines with quotes from philosophers Montaigne and Nietzsche in a highly entertaining cabaret. Did they make me happy? Yes. Thanks to House of Blakewell’s musical talent, infectious energy and verbal brilliance, the critic inside my head was thinking only happy thoughts. 

Reviews by Kate Wilkinson

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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.
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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 £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Multi award-winning duo House of Blakewell want to make you happy. They sing and dance their way through positive psychology, Greek philosophy and the 5:2 diet, but will they find what they are looking for? Featuring woodwind duels, dance-offs and original, toe-tapping showstoppers, this hilarious cabaret musical will make you feel slightly better about the world. Winner: Craig Barbour Award, Soho Theatre. Pick of the Fringe (TheNewCurrent.co.uk). Pick of the Week, Vault Festival, ***** (TheNewCurrent.co.uk). 'Hilarious, heart-warming theatre' **** (@EdFringeCritic). **** (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (WestEndWilma.com).

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