First staged to critical acclaim last year in Edinburgh and described as “a joyful trans rom-com for the Myspace generation” Happy Meal written by Tabby Lamb is now on at Brixton House. Ahead of its launch, the Blog was able to put some questions to Jamie Fletcher, the director.
Blog: Tell me about Happy Meal. What is it about and what are the main themes?
JF: Happy Meal is a nostalgic romantic comedy where two trans teenagers meet online and become friends. We see them interact with each other online through gaming and social media and as time progresses over a number of years we also see their relationship develop as those online platforms change. It’s a joyful, funny and heartfelt coming of age story. It’s a trans teen rom com. It covers lots of themes including love, relationships, communication, queerness, coming out and transitioning.
Blog: Why did you want to direct a “story about transition”?
JF: I wouldn’t really say it’s mainly about transition, more that it’s a story about relationships, communication and about learning to be who you really are. Yes these two young people work out that they are both trans and they both do transition in some way but really it’s more about them learning and understanding who they are and about their relationship with each other.
Blog: Trans rights are very much in the news at the moment. Do you see the play as part of that debate?
JF: Trans lives should never be a debate. We have existed for generations, across cultures, and we will continue to do so. Our lives and experiences should not be publicly picked apart as though there is something intrinsically wrong with us. It’s a very difficult and hostile time for trans communities right now and it’s good to be able to see some trans joy amongst the stories of transphobia. I do also think art can be activism. I think Happy Meal is a very special show, I have never really seen another trans romantic comedy on the stage before. It’s a show I am certainly proud to have directed.
Blog: What have been the main challenges in bringing this piece to the stage?
JF: It’s always a challenge as a director to find creative ways to turn the script and what’s written on the page into something bold and exciting for the stage. I think the biggest challenge with Happy Meal was to find a creative way to tell this story that isn’t just two people sat in two different spaces typing behind computers. How do we bring this story to life and the online world they frequent visually onto the stage for an audience to see? And how do those characters speak to each other on the stage when in reality if we were being naturalistic about it they would not be speaking very much and instead just be typing etc.
Blog: What do you like most about the piece?
JF: I’m really proud of all the team and how they have brought my vision for Tabby’s wonderful script to life. Collaboration is certainly the key. From the stylistic set design by Ben and the beautiful projection by Daniel to the nostalgic sound design by Eliyana and lighting by Kieron. I think it all comes together in a really creative and harmonious way. And then to top it off to work with two brilliant trans actors to bring these fictional characters to life. So wonderful seeing them capture the hearts of the audience each night.
Blog: What would you like the audience to take away after watching the play?
JF: I certainly want the audience to be entertained and have had a wonderful time seeing Happy Meal. I want them to see trans joy on the stage. Besides that, I think the audience will no doubt walk away knowing the importance of supporting trans youth. I think they’ll also take away how important it is that trans people get the opportunity to tell our own stories and that those stories don’t have to have an unhappy ending.
Happy Meal runs until 11 March in Brixton House, 385 Coldharbour Lane SW9 8GL
There will be a ‘pay-it-forward’ ticket scheme in partnership between Brixton House, and writer Tabby Lamb, aimed at trans and non-binary patrons who may not be able to afford tickets, so providing them with the opportunity to see some of their stories told in a joyous light.
For further details call 020 7582 7680 or go to www.brixtonhouse.co.uk