A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

Impressive musical about mental health

Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones' musical could leave the most stoical theatre goer a quivering jelly on the floor. Its power is that it creates gusts of laughter and affection for the central character Sally, endearingly portrayed by Madeline MacMahon, before laying her suicide attempt out in graphic detail.

Sally is a typically effervescent twenty-something, taking on demeaning jobs like charity mugging in animal costumes and looking for direction. Her best friend, the dorky Meatloaf fan Toby (Ed Yelland, also brilliant) is a caring sidekick, until it's clear that her bipolar condition is spiralling out of control and he is pushed away.

Floyd Jones' songs are, as with his work with Frisky and Mannish, spiky pop gems, avoiding the happy-clappy, exposition-heavy trappings of typical stage school cast musicals. Indeed, the opening number cheekily alludes to the 'let's celebrate before the story takes a dark turn and it all turns to shit' motif.

What is so refreshing about this beautiful, spine-tingling show is that there are no easy answers, only coping strategies and a sense of hope. It's this rootedness in reality that keeps it from becoming trite and sentimental. Just all too human.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug (not 16, 23) 2.20 pm, £9–£12 (£8–£11).

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

  • 4 stars

Sally's a happy person. She doesn't let little things get her down and almost never cries. But she's got an illness. It makes her feel like she isn't the person she wants to be, but she doesn't want anyone to know about it. Ages 16+.