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HAPPY DAYS at the Young Vic

February 28, 2014

Samuel Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS at the Young Vic is certainly Avant Garde. “The avant-garde (from French, “advance guard” or “vanguard”, literally “fore-guard”) are people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.” (Wikipedia)

Juliet Stevenson plays Winnie who is buried up to her waste in what looks like a landslip on the side of a cliff in Vicki Mortimer’s stark design. Winnie’s husband Willie played by David Beames is in a hole in the cliff behind her. Winnie is kept awake by the blaring sunshine and this dreadful noise. She has a bag with a few personal items to get her through her day. I saw the play as a metaphor for a relationship between husband and wife in the latter years from the perspective of the wife.

I was describing the play to a close friend in my village and I said “Mike and I really found it interesting and I even enjoyed the first Act but I will not be taking a coach party from the village”. You have to empathise with the discomfort of the characters and enjoy the cleverness of the writing. Mostly I found it very sad.

Juliet Stevenson is simply incredible and I think this play depends on an amazing woman to play Winnie. I will never forget the detail of her performance. Winnie is someone who I felt I have met and I have been privileged to spend some time gaining insight into her existence. Impressive and very rewarding.

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