Jack Rooke: Happy Hour @ The Underbelly Cowgate (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017) Review
Indicative writing with an honest pledge, Jack Rooke yet again pulls at the heart strings reflecting on the brutal truth of grief. Following acclaimed solo show, Good Grief, Rooke returns to the Fringe, this time exploring the complex nature of suicide. A mantle piece to the framed photographs of Rooke’s fallen companions, this show is an honourable letter to the Happy Hour where friendships were born.
Striking comedic balance, the receptionist, poet, part time primary school assistant and fat Stacey Dooley dances to the crescendo of life. Following the success of Good Grief, Rooke featured on BBC Three taking his principled attitude towards grief and masculinity to faceted platforms, whilst developing a discourse for change. Reflecting on cuts and the neglectful attitudes towards mental health, Rooke advocates for not just discussion but action.
After the deathly year of 2016, loosing what seemed like the percentage of celebrity heroes, Rooke darkly emphasises how we can all relate to his grief stricken pain. Filled with jokes and a George Michael soundtrack, Rooke’s strength to ignite a humour during the worst human experience is endearing. His floppy, curly hair immediately charms you and when you begin to hear his story a cathartic sharing is embarked upon.
Neon lights and a glitter curtain backdrop create the setting of an establishment selling shots for £1 and all we want to do is get drunk with Rooke. However he is not alone in this show, Ben stage hand, a believed member of The Underbelly titters on the action with sparkle and charm. Moving through camp dance sequences featuring a Britney slogan T-shirt, Rooke reflects on coming out to the best friend who this story pivots around. The Oliver to his Nancy, the audience become the recipient of Rooke’s letter, investing and feeling a responsibility towards his heartache.
I leave the theatre warm hearted donating to Calm, a charity dedicated to the prevention of suicide. An avid respect for Rooke resonates, his openness to talk about personal grief is inspirational and an example for all. 4/5
Review written by Megan Mattravers.
Happy Hour is currently showing at the Underbelly until Sunday 27th August 2017 as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on the production, visit here…