Touching and funny hour explores suicide and friendship
Following on from Good Grief, Jack Rooke tackles another difficult problem in Happy Hour – male suicide. As an ambassador for mental health charity CALM, and a recovering performance poet, Rooke's confident delivery, wry humour and compassion takes autobiographical material and works it into a resonant reflection on mental health and friendship.
Rooke begins with a sardonic description of his time at university – making swipes at trite performance poetry, low wage employment and his gradual coming out – before recalling his friendship with Olly. Despite taking different paths in life, their bond – forged at cheap drinking sessions – remained strong. Olly's suicide is weaved into Rooke's own story: Rooke is endearingly and bracingly aware of his loss, but even criticises himself and worries about how effectively he uses his platforms – performance and a TV documentary – to pay appropriate respect to Olly.
He does, however, have a strong political point to make, attacking the failure of government to provide the necessary support for mental health, and asks his audience to become aware and engaged, pointing towards CALM and insisting that the time for talk has ended: it's time for action. In a Fringe where autobiography has often become an alternative to dramaturgical design, Happy Hour is a thoughtful, political and personal plea, with added funky dance routines.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug, 5.20pm, £11–12 (£10--£11).