happy eaters

Sam Crerar and Allie Daniel Picture: Lottie Amor

Happy Meal

B2 Belgrade Coventry


Happy Meal is a richly rewarding drama that has more twists than a dog’s hind leg. Two teenagers, Bette (Allie Daniel) and Al (Sam Crerar) meet in cyberspace and the set reflects this cleverly.

They each have their silos within a speech bubble, each reflecting the images they want to each other while the set and lighting emphasizes their mood swings, sudden and lengthy silences and their gradual growing together, apart and together again.

It is the story of the acceptance of friendship as much as anything where the individual circumstances suggest that aloneness would be the order of the day. Social Media gets a bad press and Happy Meal presents the plus side elegantly.

We follow their growth into adulthood through the changes to their bodies and their friendship.  What is illuminating is that the growth is so much quicker where there is family support. Al has the support of family where Bette is neither understood or supported by those close.

Gradually they learn to support each other, and to lean on each other, be honest and trust each other as they both make difficult decisions. I loved the section on what used to be called ‘Second Life’ where their avatars present their images to the outside world exactly as they would wish including how they become increasingly fond of each other.

In Second Life, Bette is able to show her growing feeling for Al and vice versa. Finally, they meet properly as adults in a sexual encounter that is beautifully described by Bette.

Happy Meal is very moving, I cried several times and don’t mind admitting it, because I have met quite a few people facing the same decisions and come to realise, as I think is implied in the text, that gender is too set on stereotypes and not on individual needs, wants and talents and that, trammelled into our set pathways from socialisation onward, does no one any good. Bette says to Al, “We were both born with the bodies we were meant to have”.

If I have made it sound ‘worthy’, I didn’t mean to. There is plenty to enjoy and amuse, and definitely plenty to think about. And maybe McDonald’s on the way home.

Written by Tabby Lamb and directed by Jamie Fletcher, Happy Meal runs to 24-09-22.

Jane Howard


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