Arts, Features

REVIEW: ‘Robyn is Happy’ takes audiences on an emotional rollercoaster

The Hub Theatre Company of Boston presents “Robyn is Happy” through Nov. 11 at the First Church Boston. PHOTO COURTESY HUB THEATRE OF BOSTON

What do you want from love?

While this seems like an exceedingly simple question, there are an array of complex thoughts and emotions that go behind it. “Robyn is Happy,” the latest from Hub Theatre Company of Boston, does a brilliant job in highlighting these concepts.

“Robyn is Happy” is a funny, heart-warming comedy that simultaneously addresses several deep, dark issues. The play follows the tangled storyline of three women in their mid-30s, just trying to find happiness in their life, and the playwright, Michael Elyanow, succinctly sews each of the characters’ lives together to create 90 minutes of non-stop self-discovery and introspection.

The story opens with two friends, Trudy and Hannah, staging a life intervention for Robyn — they believe she has gone too far in her romantic escapades.

Audiences soon discover that Robyn lost all control after her divorce with her partner of 14 years, and she has been sleeping around ever since. It is also revealed that the person with whom she is currently involved is mentally challenged — her friends clearly disapprove of the relationship.

As the story tumbles further along, audiences learn more about the characters’ past — with multiple suicide attempts and possible signs of abuse — and they may realize that none of the characters are really sure about where they’re going or what they’re doing.

The plot tests a lot of murky waters, including several topics that one wouldn’t expect to be so complicated — including the extent to which a friendship could extend and whether love really should be judgement-free.

But the the story also pulls at the heartstrings and bears valuable lessons: Love is the true teacher, and it’s only through love that people can discover the truth about themselves. It also illustrates the strength of friendships that persevere, and how these friendships can either be someone’s biggest asset or drag them down depending on how the friends perceive one another.

The three stars of the show — Christine Dickinson as Hannah, Lauren Elias as Trudy, and Amie Lytle as the titular Robyn — performed brilliantly, truly capturing the idiosyncrasies of their respective characters.

Dickinson stole the show with the performance of the manic, supremely concerned yet out of control and suicidal Hannah. She played the character to a T and never wavered for even a second.

The props used were few in quantity and repetitive in occurrence, and the set wasn’t exactly the most elaborate, but the execution and direction was brilliant — it made the whole performance come together. The director, Kelly Smith, did a brilliant job, ensuring that the audience’s attention didn’t waver throughout the entire performance.

The story ultimately leads to an unexpected finale that may leave audiences with mixed emotions and uncertainty.

Yet perhaps the weakest point of the play was its pre-finale, which felt like a concluding scene even though there was still a little more to come.

While the penultimate scenes were indeed unexpected and unpredictable, it was still a cliché of sorts that didn’t fit in very smoothly with the story. It seemed extremely forced and unnecessary in the context, and was used merely as a prop to tie together the conclusion in a neat little package.

Besides the finale, the entire play was a stunning performance that’s sure to leave a mark on both the heart and soul of everyone who watches it. Marketed as a combination of “Sex and the City” and “Titus Andronicus,” the play was every bit as playful as the former and had all the extreme melodrama of the latter.

A must-see for anyone who enjoys an emotional rollercoaster, “Robyn is Happy” gives audiences both the anticipation and suspense of the climb and the rush of the fall — just be sure to hold tight and not scream too much.

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