Fiona Coffey & Rhiannon Vivian: Honey’s Happening (Summer of Love Tour)

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Fiona Coffey & Rhiannon Vivian

Honey’s Happening (Summer of Love Tour)

Canal Cafe Theatre, London, UK, 8/31/19

Reviewed by Gavin Brock for Cabaret Scenes

Rhiannon Vivian (L) & Fiona Coffey Photo: Stuart Hull

In the above-the-pub performance space that serves as a late 1960s suburban living room, housewife Honey Childs (Fiona Coffey), inspired by the ongoing hippie counter-cultural revolution, is hosting a “happening” in pursuit of world peace. We, the audience, have been transported to a time when such a notion remained a noble and still seemingly attainable goal, and the anthem “Little Spanish Flea” was a vinyl record hostesses would spin while handing out pineapple and cheese on a cocktail stick in order to promote spiritual enlightenment to anyone who might arrive. As Honey assures the assembled party guests, and illustrates with a glimpse of painstaking cushion needlepoint, “Whoever comes are the right people” and “Whatever happens in meant to happen.”

If it sounds absurd, it is, quite unabashedly; the audience (Honey’s “guests”) becomes part and parcel of the evening’s entertainment. It is to Fiona Coffey’s credit that the entire audience is commandeered through a variety of interactive set pieces with minimal fuss and much joviality, while she deftly tightens the reins when enthusiastic individuals find themselves carried away with the fun. Shenanigans of note include an attempt to heal society’s divisions through the medium of interpretive dance and a rebirthing ceremony where, to the mystical strains of an Indian sitar, a selected participant is bestowed with a hippie name and invited to climb through a home-made birthing canal fashioned from a cushion.

Beneath the shenanigans, however, a two-woman comedy drama unfolds between Honey and her long-suffering daughter Barbara (Rhiannon Vivian) when the discovery of Barbara’s same-sex relationship puts our host’s progressive sensibilities to the test. The awkward dichotomy between Honey’s inherited conservatism and her personal association with progressive values provides the basis for both the heart and the humor of the piece, which acutely portrays the generational shift between the baby boomers and generation X. All the while, Honey’s earnest quest for meaning and openness, while never veering towards outright cynicism, is delivered with a knowing wink that is hard to resist.

Gavin Brock

In addition to working full-time as a primary school teacher in London, Gavin is a composer, lyricist and children's author. His Christmas fantasy adventure novel ' Alabaster Snowball and the Naughty List' is published by Troubador. In 2023, his mini-musical 'Krampus Night' was produced by Indieworks Theatre Company, New York and featured in season two of the multi-award winning Bite-Sized Broadway podcast. For more information, please visit