"What’s the idea? Stuck up to her diddies in the bleeding ground.
What does it mean? What’s it meant to mean? What’s the idea of you? What are you meant to mean?” says Winnie, the inhumed heroine of Samuel Beckett’s now sixty year old masterpiece, Happy Days.
Audiences may infer what they will as this interred interrogator pours forth from her blasted heap. A feminine counterpart to Krapps’s Last Tape, but funnier, and arguably less dour, Happy Days is happier, with wishful wisps of hope and a wistful whisper of nostalgia.
Happy Days begins with Winnie, a woman buried to her waist, a waste land of sun blasted dirt and ash littered with the detritus and debris of domestic life – the spoils of toil spoiling in the soil. More than one foot in the grave, a half torso entombed, ablution cannot be absolute, but Winnie does her best by brushing her teeth with a much admired oral hygiene implement and donning a hat.
Behind her mound lives Willie. He once occupied her mound, but is now a shuffling mortal coil, once proud and erect, now flaccid and slithery, no longer able to enter head first but needing to reverse into snug and comfy comfort, symbol of the ageing phallus. This conked out cock pores over pornographic picture postcards, quotes obtuse news items in newspapers so old that they are unfit for fish wrapping, coins cunning puns, and makes a Sisyphus-like attempt to mount the increasingly encased Winnie.
“I suppose some people might think us a trifle irreverent but I doubt it. How can one better magnify the Almighty than by sniggering with him at his little jokes, particularly the poorer ones.” says Winnie, irreverent perhaps, but certainly not irrelevant.
Sixty years on, Happy Days, it seems, could not be more relevant, with an ageing population and the creeping catastrophe of climate change adding to our existential crisis. Lines like the borrowed from Shakespeare, ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun’ and Beckett’s own ‘Earth, the old extinguisher’, take on fresh resonance for contemporary audiences.
Director Craig Baldwin helms a very handsome production of Happy Days with Set Designer Charles Davis creating a butte that becomes a buttress for the word warrior Winnie. Lighting Designer Veronique Benett and Sound Designer Shareeka Helaluddin adding extra visual and aural textures.
Belinda Giblin is simply wonderful as Winnie, lusty and lustrous and totally au fait with Beckett’s lexicon. Lex Marinos is marvellous as Willie, the moan spouting spouse, an exemplar of less is more.
Happy 60th Birthday Happy Days and many happy returns.
by Samuel Beckett
Director Craig Baldwin
Venue: Name | Address
Dates: X – X Month Year
Tickets: $XX – $XX
Bookings: phone | website