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Happy as Larry (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Happy as Larry, performed by Shaun Parker & Company is a cutting-edge and eclectic piece of international choreography that is currently wowing audiences all over the UK.

It is a piece about happiness and all of its ambiguity.  Award-winning Artistic Director Shaun Parker found himself driven to investigate ‘human happiness’ when looking at it within a global context. An expressionless woman stood alone on the stage invites us all to rediscover laughter, whilst making clear that happiness is not always as it seems...

Combining break-dancing, roller-skating, and ballet - on a much smaller scale - this is a powerful and engaging piece of dance. The nine performers attack the choreography with flair, throwing themselves around the simple set of a large rotating blackboard, designed by Adam Gardnir, with energy and ease.

In particular, Ghenoa Gela gives a stand-out performance, drawing the audience in with her characterisation and ability to draw laughter from movement, whilst Dean Cross (Larry) does well in expressing inner-thoughts and feelings by simply using a piece of chalk. His final moments on the stage, which, without giving too much away, involves a roof full of balloons, is at once both simple and thought-provoking.

However, despite being individually captivating, it is the moments that they are brought together in dance harmony that is most worthy of praise. The ensemble are polished and totally in synch with one another, proving themselves masters of their form.

The vibrant electro/score co-composed by Nick Wales and Bree Ean Reyk fits the contemporary edge of the piece well, although it does become repetitive and monotonous after the full 75 minutes is through.

Happy as Larry is an exciting and highly potent performance that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face.

- Rebecca Cohen


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