Blind to Happiness
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
February 22, 2012
My 2012 FRIGID New York experience kicked off with Blind to Happiness, a one-man play written and performed by Tim C. Murphy. Like many FRIGID shows past, this one comes from Canada (Tim's from Ottawa), and has toured the North American Fringe circuit over a period of several years. Murphy is an engaging, very likable performer, and his show—while a bit uneven—is insightful, entertaining, and sometimes a bit inspiring.
Murphy portrays three characters in the piece. The main one is "Couks" (ne Chris Kennedy), a 32-year-old man who, despite being in many ways one of life's losers, maintains a generally chipper and positive outlook to a life that is mostly bereft of possibility. His dad was an alcoholic who passed away a year ago and his ma worries the he will wind up following a similar, sad path. Couks works as a dishwasher and though he is going to culinary college it doesn't seem to be in the cards that he will get a much-wanted promotion to chef anytime soon. And he's too shy and insecure to ask the girl of his dreams, Jess (a server at the restaurant), out for a date.
But Couks soldiers on, as one does, and faces down his troubles for the most part. Murphy imbues him with a naif quality that is very endearing and an unexpected life force at his center.
The others in Blind to Happiness play lesser roles, serving as counterpoint to Couks and his tale. Mike O'Meara is a server at the restaurant and Ph.D. psychology student who counsels Couks from time to time but probably needs to do some work on himself as well. Jamie Bliss, a line cook, is a shy aspiring poet. Indeed, Jamie's poem is one of the high points of the piece and, along with a short but pithy anecdote about Couks's visit to his dying father at the hospital, the emotional spine of the show.
Murphy shifts easily among the three characters and brings them each to life in a convincing and lively manner. My one real quibble with Blind to Happiness is that the three characters shift in and out of direct address without warning or motivation; I think the script would be stronger if Murphy decided to either keep the fourth wall in place or do away with it altogether.
But overall, I found the play charming and welcoming, the perfect start to an (unseasonably warm!) edition of NYC's winter indie theater fest.