Top positive review
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Engaging, thought-provoking and supremely imaginative
on 3 February 2014
This play marked my introduction to Beckett. I had heard of his plays and his reputation for creating absurd, avant-garde theatre but nothing quite prepared me for this piece of writing. The play tells the story of Winnie – a lonely, desolate, compulsive talker, who is stuck (for reasons unclear) up to her waist in a mound of earth and her husband, Willie, an almost muted hermit, who remains pretty much hidden throughout the whole time.
Each day begins the same, triggered by the strident sound of a bell. Winnie then begins her routine in a very meticulous and exact way. Cleaning herself, checking her belongings, speaking aloud to Willie and herself, enduring the baking heat. This behaviour is both comic and tragic to behold, not to mention mind-bending. The play continues in this fashion, until the 2nd act, where Winnie is now buried up to her neck.
The play is largely thought to be about marriage and the title ‘Happy Days’ is very much an ironic label. Reading the play (and later seeing it at the Young Vic with Juliet Stevenson as Winnie), I found a number of themes and metaphors could be equally applied to this play. Also, considering the main character is physically stuck the whole time, there is actually a great deal of action. Indeed, Beckett’s stage directions are so frequent and so prescriptive, that Winnie’s actions are just as important as her words.
I am very pleased to have discovered Beckett and this play has now made me want to read (and see) all of his work. Happy days!