‘Happy Meal’ (Traverse Theatre) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

‘Happy Meal’ takes the audience back to the quaint days of dial up and MSN, where you’ll follow two strangers on their journeys to become who they always were. From teen to adult, from MySpace to TikTok, from cis to trans. This brand new play is debuting at Traverse 2 as part of TravFest and is running until Sunday 28th August. 

Allie Daniel radiates humour, confidence and raw emotion as B. B’s journey is one which shows much anxiety and inner conflict. However, Allie wrings the comedy out of the text with such nuance, engaging the audience and showing light in the darkness of the challenges she is facing. 

Sam Crerar shows a struggling man, transitioning from a forced existence into who he wants to be. Sam presents Alec with such energy and intrigue, especially when exploring the new online world with B. The desperation we see Alec face through Sam’s performance shows how much he wishes to meet B and cares about her. 

The dynamic these two performers present to the audience brings so much depth to the character’s relationship and instantly makes us root for them. The brilliantly bonkers online world is presented with such colour by both Sam and Allie. And yet they both have the versatile talent to bring us back into the real world and show true struggles, that doesn’t mean the real world doesn’t always have a bit of colour. Allie and Sam transpose this story so beautifully to stage, it’s hard not to admire the sheer talent. 

Tabby Lamb has captured a lot of millennials and Gen Z’s childhood online experiences perfectly in the text for ‘Happy Meal’. We see the evolution; we see the maturing and we see the real issues which truly impact our generation. And yet we see struggles that really only members of the trans community have faced, these issues have not been explored in any medium nearly enough, and it’s so nice to have an insight into their lives in such a wonderfully creative and heartwarming way. Jamie Fletcher helps add to this by directing the production in such a colourful, physical and emotional way which helps every interaction make an impact to the audience. Ben Stone’s set and costume encapsulates both the real world and club penguin brilliantly. Daniel Denton’s video design is possibly the best portrayal of the online world I have seen on stage, simply to how it really captures the essence of what it was like talking to people in the noughties to current day. All of this is lifted by Kieron Johnson’s lighting design and Eliyana Evan’s sound design. 

‘Happy Meal’ is a delightful tale of two strangers facing similar struggles, yet escaping hand in hand to the online world where they make a true connection. This production will leave your heart full and really root for the two beautiful character’s journeys. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get your tickets for ‘Happy Meal’ via the below link:

https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event/happy-meal

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