Tabby Lamb (by Michael Wharley)
The world premiere of Tabby Lamb’s Happy Meal is a joyful queer rom-com where Millennial meets Gen Z and change is all around. Following the show's run at Edinburgh Fringe, Tabby spoke to us about joy, Oxford, and our new Prime Minister.
First of all, how was your Edinburgh Fringe?
This year's Fringe was wild. It was the first full festival since the pandemic and the excitement in the air was palpable! Thankfully the show was really well received too - we won a Fringe First and got some lovely audiences in who seemed to really love the show!
Which other shows at the Fringe really impressed you?
I ended up only being at the Fringe myself for a few days so didn't manage to catch as many shows as I wanted to, but thankfully I could catch some of my #FringeFaves like Plaster Cast Theatre, whose new show Delicious Fruit explores trans sex and kink in such a beautiful and fun way!
Is Happy Meal in any way a different show to the one you initially intended?
Happy Meal has evolved so much since the initial idea. I said with this show I wanted it to be a big collaboration between a bunch of queer artists, and thankfully we were able to assemble an incredible team! There’s no way I could have pictured the amazing set design or video work, let alone the gorgeous connection that Sam Crerar and Allie Daniel have as Alec and Bette on and off stage!
Has it become a more joyful show with each performance?
The show always has such a joyful vibe, I couldn’t say the joy grows every show, but the connection with the audience really creates the vibe. Our performers Sam and Allie are both just so fantastic at capturing the audience's hearts and keeping them safe for the duration of the show.
Did you have to wait until you were at a specific place in your life before writing it?
This is the first fictional show I’ve written and it came immediately after writing and performing an autobiographical show about the deaths of some of my best friends. I wanted to make a show for trans audiences that felt like a hug - something that wouldn’t trigger them or centre trauma. We’ve all had enough trauma to last a lifetime over the past few years - it's time for some joy!
Why is it called Happy Meal?
The show is called Happy Meal because that's exactly what it should do - feed the audience some happiness! Also Happy Meals are often gendered with the Barbie toy for the girls and the Hot Wheels toy for the boy and I wanted to mess with that a little…
Who is the show for?
The show is for the trans community. I tried to make sure it can be enjoyed by everyone, but there's so little art that is specifically curated for a trans audience that I think it's important to focus us in my intentions.
What does it mean to you to put it on in Oxford?
The first show I ever saw was at Oxford Playhouse, so to be bringing my show to the same venue is just WILD! Oxford has such an amazing literary and theatrical history that to be a part of it for a few days is a dream come true. Also, all my family will be descending so it's nice to be somewhere local for them!
What are you reading, watching, and listening to right now?
I’m currently reading I Kissed Shara Wheeler by non binary writer Casey McQuiston which is their first YA novel. I loved their adult books and this is such a fun summer romp. Music-wise, I’m always listening to my queen Carly Rae Jepsen - her new single Beach House is just hilarious.
Which other theatre-makers are exciting you currently?
What could the appointment of Liz Truss as Prime Minister mean for trans rights?
Liz Truss hates anyone who isn't cis, white and rich. She’s a disaster for everyone, not just trans folk!
What else is on your agenda?
The main thing on my agenda for Oxford is to go back to my favourite ice cream place, G&D’s, and to have a quiet moment sat on Lyra and Will’s bench because I am nothing if not a nerd!
Happy Meal by Tabby Lamb (they/she) is at Oxford Playhouse 13-17 September: www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events