Jack Rooke: Happy Hour review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘quirky humour’

Jack Rooke Jack Rooke
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It seems to Jack Rooke that far too many people and pets have died in his life so far. When his friend Olly commits suicide, it galvanises him into action and the result is Jack Rooke: Happy Hour.

Rooke’s had several jobs since graduating but it’s through his poetry slam group that he seems most at ease. He has a gregarious stage presence that veers heavily toward self-deprecating humour.

Using mixed media, including footage from his BBC Three documentary series, Happy Man, Rooke tells his story with innate honesty, energy and plenty of quirky humour. He is accompanied on his mission by his friend Ben Welch, who acts a stage manager, straight man and dancing partner.

Rooke gratefully references the help his producers have given him with this project, and it’s a testament to the pastoral care that can permeate the Fringe, often undetected.

The over-arching message of Happy Hour is that the time for talking about mental health is over and it’s time something was actually done about it. Rooke’s fragmented and occasionally amusing show has its heart in the right place, but its style probably needs a longer gestation period and a little more focus.

Amiable if slightly shambolic account of a friendship that ended too soon