Marin Theatre Company presents HAPPY NOW?
Written by Lucinda Coxon
Directed by Jasson Minadakis
Boyer Theatre
November 11-December 5, 2010

Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when
He so lives as to make happiness impossible.
St. Augustine

These days, modern women are trying to be everything to everyone and discover too late that when they do that they become nothing to themselves. “The backlash of the feminist movement is that both sexes, but especially women, are feeling the pressure to ‘do it all.’ ” said Margot Melcon. “Now women owe it to themselves to ease up, and realize that just because we can do it all, doesn’t mean we have to. “

And that is Kitty’s problem in HAPPY NOW? She has all the ingredients for the perfect life but way too much is missing. She asks “Is this my life? My one and only life?”

And she says to her husband Johnny (Alex Moggridge portrayed with just the right touch of frustration and idealism) “why don’t you kiss me anymore?”

This production belongs to director Jasson Minadakis. He has created a masterpiece on every level with his staging techniques, the people moving in harmony across the stage, and the fantastic melding of scenes into one another. HAPPY NOW? is a comedy that isn’t funny. It is too real. We watch five people so desperate to find happiness that they cannot see what they actually have and instead of the actors on stage, we see ourselves. Kitty, (played with sensitivity and impeccable taste by Rosemary Garrison) the central character in the play, seems to have it all and yet she feels as if she has nothing. “Everyone I know works tremendously hard to be Kitty,” said Minadakis. “To have the job that makes a difference in the world, to be leader at that job, to have a happy family, to have a circle of friends. But when you are living ‘the dream’ how do you balance it all? How is it possible to be all these things and still be sane?”

There is another question Minadakis does not ask: How can you be happy when you have never seen what happiness is? Kitty ‘s father who is now seriously ill walked out on her mother (masterfully played by Andrew Hurteau who also steals the show as Michael the hard nosed realist who loves all women but does not feel that jeopardizes his marriage). Kitty’s mother is the prototype hypochondriac smearing guilt in her wake. Kitty is trying desperately not to be the person who mothered her, but the kind of mother she wishes she had. But how to do this when you come home from a hard day at the office, the house is a mess, the kids are crying, your husband is hungry and dealing with his own blue devils? “One of the hardest things about contemporary life is finding a way to forgive ourselves for being human and making mistakes,” says Minadakis. Indeed, the characters in this play try so hard to grab their dream, that when they open their hands they have nothing.

Every moment in this production is brilliantly orchestrated thanks to Kurt Landisman’s lighting designs and Melpomene Katakalos’s unique scenic construction. The story told on stage could not help but mesmerize the audience because it was about every one of them. “Today everyone seems to be chasing happiness,” observes dramaturge Sarah Schlegel. “If a nice house, family, job, possessions, travel, and anything else under the sun doesn’t bring happiness, what will?.....We have come to realize we chase a dream that is unattainable.”

But watching these people attempt to capture a love they don’t feel because they think it should be there for them makes us realize it is the trying that is making them miserable. It is forcing Bea (Molly Stickney) to send her less than brilliant child to a conservative, stifling school and Miles (Mark Anderson Phillips) to escape into alcohol. The unhappy, desperately seeking Bea asks Miles, “Can you ever see me anymore?” and he answers through a cloud of alcohol, ”No, but it doesn’t seem such a loss.”

Reality is only a disappointment if you define it beforehand. Inevitably you will discover that your definition is exactly what it is not. The play ends with none of the characters reaching their nirvana…instead they are living each day the best they can. And, after all, what else can any of us do?
If only we'd stop trying to be happy
we could have a pretty good time.
Edith Wharton

HAPPY NOW? continues at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941. through December 5, 2010.
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 8pm, /Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, Matinees: Dec 2 at 1 pm, Saturdays November 20 & 27 at 2 pm, Sundays at 2 pm.
TICKETS: $33-$53; Box Office 415 388 5208; www.marintheatre.org