Samuel Beckett’s work is both profound and confusing. His oeuvre of absurdist literature contains some of the most important modernist works of the 20th century — and yet they are at times pure head-scrapers. Funny, ruthless and philosophical, few writers ignite such a deep and disturbing self-examination.
A simple prerequisite
‘Happy Days’ is among one of his most masterful plays. Reserve and introverted, the premise is incredibly simple: a woman is buried up to life in a mound of earth under the beating sun, where she remains trapped in the piece. The Woman, Winnie (in this production: Sue Hansen-Styles), ponders her situation and distracts herself with a bag containing a few everyday items … and a gun. Alone on stage, she is occasionally visited by a man named Willie, who shows up to grumble a few words before slipping away.
As Winnie struggles with hope and hopelessness, we are asked to question whether one or both are lost. Her monologues, often fantasy flights that go on a rampage, are on short leash. We are repeatedly thrown back into her gloomy, buried living reality.
The compelling determinism of Happy Days along with its absurd humor, isolation, and questions of raw survival resonate deeply in contemporary issues of climate change and COVID-19. Meanwhile, Beckett’s signature Russian doll existentialism offers some comfort. We cling to logic, unpacking concepts one after the other and just following the thread to discover that it leads … nowhere. Or back to the beginning.
Happy Days turns 60 this year and continues to reflect world seismic problems as clearly as the timeless human condition. Maybe more than anything else, it’s a Rorschach test for the audience.
From 3.-25. In September, Happy Days will be performed at Teatret Ved Sorte Hest – one of Copenhagen’s oldest, most intimate theaters – by Why not theater company.
Book your tickets here.
Source: The Nordic Page