Wendy Houstoun, Happy Hour

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

It has to be said that there are few performers who can pull off a show of this kind: a dance-theatre piece based on a drunken barmaid offering up her own nonsensical philosophy whilst performing Muppet dance moves. Wendy Houstoun, being the consummate charmer that she is, makes the whole thing look a breeze.

From the opening moments of Happy Hour the audience are in love with this absurd barmaid-on-a-bender. Structurally, the work is similar to Houstoun’s previous solo trilogy Haunted, Daunted and Flaunted. There is a captivating mixture of eccentric choreography and direct delivery monologues as she struts around the stage in a drunken stupor telling terrible jokes that she can’t even finish. The text takes the common vocabulary of bars and drinking and invests it with a bitter, tragicomic element as she approaches the audience and asks ‘are these ones dead at the back? Are these your dregs at the front?’ A scene where she picks a fight with herself is particularly delicious. ‘Who do I think I am? I know my sort. I don’t want to see my face around here again or there’ll be trouble because I know where I live.’

It was a disappointment that Brighton Festival chose to place the piece in a theatre when it would have been so much funnier and more poignant to see it in a bar. But this was a small drawback with Houstoun’s maverick skills on display to win us over and charm us out of our shoes.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 24