The Route To Happiness neatly summarises what most of us are looking for in life; money, love or fame. And it is on the long search for our goals that we realise happiness is often found elsewhere. Alexander Bermnage’s new musical at the Landor Theatre is witty and smart. We are given three characters; Marcus (Niall Sheehy), Lorna (Shona White) and Trinity (Cassidy Janson). Marcus has lost his job and feels a failure, Lorna is desperately looking for love and Cassidy is manically seeking fame despite being totally talentless. The use of lighting divides the three settings and you get a sense of separation between the characters with the orange, blue and pink hazes surrounding them like a bubble. And of course hats off to director Robert McWhir, who not only makes use of the small space so well, but ensures good sightlines by moving the three actors between each defined area.
Each act is split into three sequences; the first two sequences of act one define what the characters hope to achieve and them planning their route to happiness. In the third sequence, some 40 minutes later at a mutual friend’s wedding, the characters meet and the worlds collide. This is a long build-up and I wanted the action to develop quicker. After the initial introductions, the play moves smoothly with some hilarious points, especially coming from Cassidy Janson who plays Trinity brilliantly. The lyrics are humorous in parts and very touching in others, “Holding On” is particularly strong. Lorna and Marcus begin a relationship whilst Trinity and Marcus become business partners with Marcus becoming her agent, and a little more on the side too.
The characters are exaggerated to make their point clear but because the characters lack real depth the play smacks of dated Brit-sitcoms at times. This is no reflection on the actors however, who do find hidden layers in each of their roles. Act two whizzes past and I particularly liked the two girls singing “Waiting for the Call”, a delightful harmony. Shona White has the strongest vocals and it almost feels like the stage is too small for her. But all three actors inject bags of personality into the music and deliver the lyrics with a blend of sensitivity and comic timing. Without giving too much away, the script avoids the cliche ending which surprised and pleased me. This is thoroughly enjoyable and you will leave the Landor with a big smile on your face. Time is running out to be lucky enough to see this, book now if you still can.
Review of The Route to Happiness by Josephine Kime who you can follow on Twitter @josephinekime
Book tickets by telephone at 020 7737 7276 or online at www.bermange.co.uk
The Route To Happiness runs from Tuesday 19th to Sunday 24th February (Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday at 2.30pm) at the Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, London SW9 9PH
Thursday 21st February 2013