Theatre review: The Happiness Project, Army @ The Fringe, East Claremont Street, Edinburgh

The Happiness Project, Army @ The Fringe, East Claremont Street (Venue 210)
The Happiness Project, Army @ The Fringe, East Claremont Street (Venue 210)
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In the big downstairs hall at East Claremont Street, five young performers take the stage, each on the brink - or in the early stages - of a professional career in theatre and performance.

The Happiness Project, Army @ The Fringe, East Claremont Street * * *

In the big downstairs hall at East Claremont Street, five young performers take the stage, each on the brink - or in the early stages - of a professional career in theatre and performance. Two identify as male, two as female, one as intersexual. They are sharply dressed in bright acid colours; and for 50 minutes of brisk monologue and dialogue, they lead us through their world of emotional hazard and potential isolation, as each fights an individual struggle to make contact with others despite mental health problems, continuing bias against gay and transgender people, and in once case, the experience of being autistic.

READ MORE: 8 Fringe shows based on true-life stories
The downside of The Happiness Project - directed with skill and insight by Heather Marshall for Edinburgh company Creative Electric - is that like dozens of other shows on the Fringe, it rarely takes us beyond a familiar range of anxieties and pressures facing people in their twenties and early thirties today. In seeking out the positive, though, and encouraging each member of the group to talk about the things that do bring happiness - including the simple, non-sexual touch or hug of other human beings - it achieves a stylish lightness of touch that often eludes shows on this subject; and reminds us that in surviving times of stress and change, a clear focus on the simple joys of life, and on sharing them with others, can be very useful indeed.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Until 25 August

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