Happy Birthday, Claire!
Ottawa Fringe Festival
“Happy Birthday, Claire!” was a thoroughly enjoyable show. It’s genuinely funny at times, with an ensemble cast that appears to be having as good a time as the audience.
It seems a shame to review the various aspects of this show, because when examined critically, there are several issues which could have been addressed: Several actors talked with their backs to the audience, and their voices were almost completely lost. Others spoke so fast that they were difficult to understand. An invisible ‘door’ moved by over a foot, depending on who was using it. The tropes in the script were not original, and the characters were archetypes, with no depth or subtlety to their portrayal.
But the thing is, with “Happy Birthday, Claire!”, none of that actually mattered. At several times it even felt – through dialogue and acting – that the play was self-aware of its weaknesses, and used them as comic moments (the perfect example of this was an excruciating British accent that was later revealed to be put on by a character to get a girlfriend).
“Happy Birthday, Claire!” isn’t a great show, but with the audience having such a good time, it doesn’t have to be. It is, however, a diverting and enjoyable hour of theatre, and is well worth seeing.