“HAPPY DAYS” ARE NOT NECESSARILY SO
By Bonnie Goldberg
In 1960, Samuel Beckett penned an enigmatic play “Happy Days” that was ground breaking then and still is today, according to Mark Lamos, Artistic Director of the Westport Country Playhouse where this thought provoking piece will be featured until Saturday, July 24. Lamos describes it as a “piece of modernism,” akin to a Jackson Pollock painting, that validates life, with themes on marriage, on men and women and relationships, on growing older, on wisdom and the baggage we drag along with us.
He cautions that the play may frustrate and baffle you but encourages that it has intellect and heart and will, ultimately, be an enriching experience. You need to judge for yourself.
“Happy days” is set like a day at the beach but you don’t need a pail and shovel or plans for sand castle building. Winnie, played with aplomb and optimism by Dana Ivey, is buried up to her chest in a trapping of boulders. Somewhere down below is her husband Willie, a taciturn Jack Wetherall, caught in a cave, an unwilling recipient to Winnie’s natterings and pronouncements.
An alarm bell serves to wake Winnie, if she ever really sleeps, in time for morning prayers and ablutions. Fortunately she has a large black handbag handy, by her side, which miraculously has everything she might need, toothbrush and paste, comb and brush, mirror, music box and gun. Winnie has dignity and spirit, is inclined to talk incessantly, to sing sporadically, to quote poetry inaccurately and to have the conviction that “this is going to be a happy day.” Her predicament, being encased in the earth, doesn’t seem to defeat her, even when only her head is visible amongst the rocks.
For tickets ($35-55), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, off route 1, at 203-227-4177 or online at www.WestportPlayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Watch Winnie hoist her parasol as protestation against the unrelenting sun as she sits immobile and contemplates her life where Aristotle or an ant can provide equal levels of amusement.