Made china is a collaborative work of Tim Cowbury and Jessica Latowicki, who make visceral shows at the juncture of playwriting and live art. Their latest production, We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?), is a rather energetic and frenetic two-handed affair.
Everyone else has gone out, leaving Jess and Chris stuck in the house with just us for company. They are both rather unreliable narrators, both telling us that the other is a liar, but what becomes clear is that they are sad. It doesn’t help that every time they’ve tried to have a perfect picnic, some form of disaster has struck. They make up for this by stuffing themselves full of food and drink during a frantic 50 minutes performance.
Where We Hope That You’re Happy (Why Would We Lie?) falls down is its inability to get a coherent a message across. Themes of dissatisfaction, disinformation, desensitisation and miscommunication run throughout the narrative, but as soon as you think you have worked out what is going on, the answer seems to vanish into thin air. At one point, they stop what they are doing to eat popcorn for several minutes. We all have our own popcorn, and it feels natural to tuck in. Maybe this a point regarding our voyeuristic society or reality TV? It never really becomes clear.
The performances are delivered with a knowing intensity and are full of vigour, making you want to full comprehend the contrast between the important and the trivial. I have a sense that something important is being said, but the communication just comes up short. Which is strange for a production which questions our place in today’s rapidly changing world of modern technologies and communications. Nether-the-less, as a piece it does stimulates further thought, but I did find myself leaving the theatre wondering precisely what I’d just seen.
The poor cleaners….