Yale Rep’s New ‘Painfully Truthful’ Play Asks: ‘Happy Now?’

“Happy Now?” by Lucinda Coxon, described as a “painfully truthful, darkly comic take on contemporary life and how to survive it,” will make its American premiere Oct. 24-Nov. 15 at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel St. (at York St.).

The play will be directed by Liz Diamond, an Obie Award-winning director and member of the Yale School of Drama faculty.

The central character of “Happy Now?” is Kitty, whose husband is more interested in misplaced apostrophes than in their marriage, whose parents are facing their own mortality and, even though she toys with the idea of joining a gym, who struggles with the notion that she’s running out of time for big changes. A chance encounter at a hotel plays upon Kitty’s mind as she struggles to balance personal freedom with family life, fidelity and a demanding job.

“Happy Now?” debuted at London’s National Theatre in 2008 and was hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “the best new play to arrive on the British stage for at least a year.” The Independent said that the play “hits nail after nail on the head - the sense of catharsis you get when someone has the guts to go for broke and tell it exactly as it is.”

Coxon’s plays have been staged on both sides of the Atlantic. Her other works include”Waiting at the Water’s Edge,” “Wishbones,” “Three Glances,” “The Ice Palace,” “Nostalgia,” “Vesuvius,” “I Am Angela Brazil by Angela Brazil” and “The Shoemaker’s Incredible Wife.” She wrote the screenplays for “Spaghetti Slow,” “The Heart of Me,” “Lilacs” and “Wild Target” starring Bill Nighy, which is currently shooting in the United Kingdom. She has just finished work on “The Danish Girl,” a screen adaptation of David Ebershoff’s novel, and is currently writing a new play, “Persistent Illusions,” for the National Theatre.

Diamond is a resident director at the Yale Repertory Theatre and chair of the Directing Department at the School of Drama. Her numerous Yale Rep productions include the world premieres of Marcus Gardley’s “dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory,” Sunil Kuruvilla’s “Rice Boy,” Suzan-Lori Parks’ “The America Play” (also at The Public Theater) and “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.” Diamond has also directed productions throughout the country and won the OBIE Award and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction. She currently serves as artistic advisor to the Women’s Project, where most recently she directed the critically-acclaimed production of Catherine Trieschmann’s “Crooked.”

The cast for “Happy Now?” includes Kelly AuCoin, Mary Bacon, Brian Keane, David Andrew Macdonald, Joan MacIntosh, Quentin Maré and Katharine Powell.

The play’s creative team features scenic designer Sarah Pearline, costume designer Heidi Hanson, lighting designer Matt Frey, sound designer David Budries, dramaturg Sarah Bishop-Stone, voice and dialect coach Pamela Prather, fight director David DeBesse and stage manager Amanda Spooner.

A variety of special events and performances have been scheduled during the run of “Happy Now?” They include: “Grad Night” on Saturday, Oct. 25; Opening Night on Thursday, Oct. 30; and a Senior Reception in conjunction with the 2 p.m. matinee on Wednesday, Nov. 5 (event begins at 1 p.m.). “Talk Back” discussions with the play’s creative team will be held following the 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays, Nov. 1 and 8, and after the 8 p.m. show on Thursday, Nov. 6. There will be an open-captioned performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, and an audio-described performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15.

A variety of ticket packages for Yale Rep’s 2008-2009 season are now available online at www.yalerep.org, by phone (203) 432-1234 and in person at the Yale Rep box office. Individual tickets for “Happy Now?” and all 2008-2009 productions at Yale Rep are now on sale and range from $35 to $65. Student, senior and group rates are also available.

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