Poppy Johnson

Review – Bring The Happy @ North Shore

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As usual it’s a bitterly cold evening in Sunderland but inside North Shore there’s a bubble of activity and a teasing promise of laughter, tears, sparklers and glow sticks. This is Bring The Happy.

The audience enter a room set up for a celebration with large round tables laden with flowers and wine dotted around the dance floor. The entrance music is a cheesy eighties mega mix which people would tend to roll their eyes at, but there’s clearly fans of these guilty pleasures here as they give a little wiggle towards their seats.

Members of Invisible Flock, one half of the collaboration that produces Bring The Happy, are dressed smartly in black, offering guests a selection of drinks while our musical accompaniment, Hope & Social make their way towards the stage.

The show starts with Introduction, which explains how Bring The Happy is created and shares memories from Wearside and South Tyneside.

They explain how the artists have spent six weeks in and around the area collecting the general public’s memories of happiness before they’re shaped into the 15-track performance complete with projections and moments for audience participation.

A feeling of life being bittersweet is a continuing theme from start to finish as the memories shared cover everything from the celebration of births, love and even successful shopping trips right down to stories of light-hearted and heart breaking moments at funerals.

Three Stories is next in the Order of Events with the performers retelling emotive tales in spoken word. Their mixing of memories and weaving lines between one another gives the sense of life’s rich tapestry being laid bare before you.

Next, Italian Gent and A Kiss I’d Wished For are both so loving and nostalgic that I feel I’m sat in cosy cove of contentment. Hope & Social’s impeccable sound adds to the delivery of location-specific lines such as “I’ll wait for you at the metro station, protect you from the Roker cold”.

There’s a definite sense of community among the guests when the regional places are mentioned, which is part of what makes Bring The Happy so special as can create this feeling regardless of where they visit.

The show takes a wild turn into bold tracks with shots being poured, glow sticks thrown and smoke machines blasted during Intoxication – a retelling of confessions of wild crazy nights “Getting mortal”.

The production flows on and off stage, inviting audience members to wave sparklers, play kazoos, dance, sing and clap.  Each performance changes depending on where it is set with a completely new song created for each city.

Sunderland’s anthem felt rooted and packed with pride and some extremely happy memories, repeating the lyric “I love this town and I’ll never leave” as a video flying through the coastal town was projected onto the big screen.

Bring The Happy moved me to tears, raised my spirit and let me share a musical love letter to humanity with a room full of strangers.

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