One might argue that achieving perfect happiness has always been a fallible aspiration. Much of the planet's population, after all, is far too tasked with the demands of daily life to contemplate the pathways to utopian existence. Even so, the pursuit of everlasting bliss is an endeavor known to sustain true believers through arduous times. But can the craving for felicity actually lead to misery? Such is the tantalizing question proposed by Seth Lepore in his latest solo venture, SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious. The Mary Poppins riffing title is a telling indicator of the play's comic zeal. Presented through a succession of satiric insights, Lepore has crafted a witty exposé on a "happiness industry" that whets our voracious appetite for sustained cheerfulness. Lampooning the power of positive thinking and motivational centers, the piece recounts situations drawn from Lapore's own lifetime search for happiness (including a detour into Oprah's Book Club). Engagingly charismatic, the actor is known as a skilled solo performer, a comic storyteller who grounds his myriad personae with earned empathy, ensuring that characters never become caricatures, and that laughter reinforces, rather than detracts from, his deeply held convictions. It's a difficult balance to be sure, but he previously demonstrated his deftness in Losing My Religion, one of the standout works from last year's Fringe Festival. The ultimate irony, of course, is that a critique of happiness could elicit so much delight.
Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: March 22. Continues through March 25, 2012