Hope has a Happy Meal is a gripping triumph of new writing.

Credit: Helen Murray

Written by Tom Fowler and directed by Lucy Morrison, Hope has a Happy Meal is centered around Hope (Laura Checkley) as she heads home to rekindle her relationship with her sister (Amaka Okafor) and son, both of whom she abandoned twenty-four years ago. During her journey to her sister’s commune, Hope forms a bit of a rag-tag group, consisting of the sweet Isla (Mary Malone) and her adopted baby, and the sheepish but selfless Ali (Nima Taleghani). The smaller Jerwood Theatre Upstairs is transformed to a bigger-than-it-seems space. The height differences in the stage makes the most of the limited space they have. The colourfulness of the lights, stairs, and balloons gives an almost whimsical feel, lining with the funny parts of the play and contrasting the serious moments.

Laura Checkley is a star. A natural storyteller, she embraces Hope and successfully portrays the very layered character. Save for Checkley, all of the actors play multiple roles, a technique that always impresses me. Most impressive of all is Felix Scott’s range, going from a chilling clown to a rugged yet profound truck driver to a despicable, murderous police officer.

Credit: Helen Murray

Fowler’s writing is fantastic; I am so glad I got a play text to analyse it more! The show is full to the brim of metaphors, the main and most obvious one being the titular character’s name. The underlying themes of abandonment and hope tie nicely together. Hope and her friends’ story is so gripping, it could stand alone without the dystopian capitalistic background.

Despite the strong writing, the one thing I can’t quite understand is the link to capitalism. The asides to the future capitalistic world (e.g. Facebook Forest, Koka Kola Airlines, and Disney Quarry), are funny, but that’s just about it. I wish there were more ‘rules’ about this government and world to establish the setting more. It is very intriguing and has so much potential. I wish it would link itself more to the main storyline.

Credit: Helen Murray

Perhaps my favourite aspect of Hope has a Happy Meal is the satisfying, open-ended scene. You never know if Hope reunites with her son; the last thing the audience sees is her waiting with a happy meal, hoping. Whether it’s to analyse brilliant writing, watch some stellar actors do their thing, or hear a very extravagant yet ultimately hilarious joke, I’d highly recommend you taking a trip to the Royal Court Theatre.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hope has a Happy Meal is on at the Royal Court until the 8th of July – info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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