The first picture we are given in ‘How Does That Make You Feel’ rather wonderfully seems to sum up the whole piece in one moment – a well presented psychologist screaming in to a pillow which states “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. This was a brilliant exposition of the play to come. In this sit-com-like piece we see young psychologist Sebastian (Ethan Chapples) gently try to use his power as therapist to part husband and wife, in order that he and Kirsty (Sara Steel) can be together. Unfortunately Trevor’s (Tom Bonington) utter obliviousness to his failing marriage and the obvious affair means Seb has his work cut out for him.
Chapples gives a nice performance with attention to detail to the nuances of the psychologists own insecurities, with a particularly funny father complex. Overall well rounded, however his RP accent had a tendency to waver, which made me wonder why the accent was chosen in the first place? A northern psychologist isn’t so hard to believe! The sexual tension between Chapples and Steel was palpable, and Steel brought on a much-needed boost in pace to the text. Ultimately a play about power, she seems to manipulate both men with ease and elegance. Bonington creates a lovable idiot, but as the story unfolds we learn he is not as dense as he seems. I felt individually each actor developed strong character choices however the chemistry between the trio seemed a little lax. For me the pace needed to be kept higher in order for the comedy to shine through.
In my opinion the real star of the show was John Hill’s writing. The gags are funny, the story is believable, and the plot points are bold. Hill’s use of subtext is subtle and clever, blending two conversations at the same time; one for all three characters and one private between therapist and wife. Overall I think that the play was good, the actors were good, and the direction was good, it just felt like everyone was at about 75%. With an extra boost this play would not feel out of place on E4, its funny, modern and a greatly entertaining story.