On February 9th, 2013 I attended The Echo Theatre’s production of Little Happy Secrets. As the show began, I found myself having a very hard time with focusing. Several of the light cues were late, loud music next door was disrupting the scene, and the actors glanced nervously around the audience, seeming as though they were having as much trouble concentrating as I was. Luckily, Jessica Myer’s startlingly honest monologues were able to cut through the tension and quickly command the room’s attention. Although there were a few small mishaps later in the show – a line stumbled over, an obstructed sightline, a fumbled prop – I found myself far from caring, or even considering them. This was thanks to the wonderful ensemble, who gracefully partnered an organic approach to the script with a disillusioned view of the issues at hand.
Jessica Myer fluidly transported the audience to a place where they could wander through Claire’s psyche and re-experience the emotions of her character’s cuttingly heartfelt coming of age story. Her fearless portrayal of a young LDS woman struggling with her sexuality presented the issue in a way that felt more personal than political. Unfortunately, Aubrey Reynold’s performance as Brennan sometimes fell flat next to Jessica Myer’s sobering performance as Claire. However, the introduction of Claire’s sister (Natalie), played by Heidi Smith Anderson, introduced an unexpectedly powerful flood of emotion.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of this performance was the chillingly ambiguous ending, which was mirrored in the whimsical, yet melancholy, set design. Framed candid photos of the characters were suspended in the air, rather than hung on the wall, creating a feeling of moments suspended in time. Fittingly, the happy, the sad, the uplifting, the heart-wrenching, the magnificent, and the mundane were all reflected in the photos –all equally stuck in space and time. This framed the setting for a wide range of emotions as we followed Claire through her journey, and ultimately seemed appropriate as she delivered her tear-jerking final monologue. Claire’s final words are sure to resonate with the audience, echoing the little happy secrets we all keep, and the cold realities of happy endings.
LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS is playing Feb 9 – 23rd at the Echo Theatre at 145 North University Avenue in Provo. Curtain is at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 Presale, $12 General, and can be purchased on their website: www.theechotheatre.com