HAPPY: A VERY GAY LITTLE MUSICAL by Sky Gilbert and Micah Barnes, directed by Gilbert (Cabaret Company). At Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). To April 27. Pwyc-$17. 416-975-8555. See listings. Rating: NN
So here’s your choice in a gay male relationship: love or sex. You can’t have both. Or at least you can’t in Sky Gilbert’s Happy: A Very Gay Little Musical.
Cutesy married couple Dave (Jason Cadieux) and Bob (David Tomlinson) have, because of Dave’s demands, a monogamous relationship. They have romance but no sex, and reject campiness and nasty promiscuity. But since Bob’s hormones still kick in, hypocrisy lurks beneath his sanctimonious exterior.
They’re also a musical-theatre team, librettist and composer, in the midst of writing a show about their relationship with the help of Sue (Sharron Matthews), friend, dramaturge and self-described fag hag.
Gilbert, who also directs, has constructed a postmodern, play-within-a-play structure to make points about gay marriage and the importance of sex and promiscuity. (Sue thinks the guys are crazy to cut off, metaphorically at least, their cocks.)And then there are bits of Tennessee Williams, references to Brad Fraser’s plays and – providing Happy’s “resolution” – a snide parody of writing duo Brian Hill and Neil Bartram’s musical The Story Of My Life.
Micah Barnes’s songs aren’t put to much use, and Gilbert’s lyrics are sometimes hard to understand.
Worse, the characters are largely two-dimensional figures who have a point to make rather than an emotion to feel.
With her vibrant personality, Matthews does provide feelings; in her scene with Tom, who causes problems in the couple’s wedded bliss, she and Jamieson Eakin suggest some actual tenderness in the midst of a contrived storyline.
Political views can make for vital theatre. They just have to be blended with involving drama. Sadly, that doesn’t happen in Happy.