Top positive review
Beckett's most usefully truthful play.
on February 9, 2001
So often Beckett's philosophical 'universality' seems like an excuse not to confront genuine dilemmas head on. 'Happy Days' is his most tangible work, a grim portrait of a marriage, where a wife is buried up to her waist/waste in a repetitious living death, trying to avoid confronting the reality of her situation, the brutish indifference of her husband, the incremental inevitability of life only getting worse.
Winnie is Beckett's most sympathetic character because she is the one we are the most likely to meet - she is aware of the hopelessness of her situation, but what can she do? Concentrate on something else - how many of us do better? The dissatisfaction most people have with the play presumably lies with the stage directions which interrupt the monologue every couple of words, rendering a fluid, rhythmic read impossible (like Beckett was ever easy). Instead of complaining, go and see it in a theatre, where words and gesture combine to moving effect, even when the language is at its most insistently ironic and playful (and it's very funny too, but don't they always say that about Beckett?). It certainly made me ashamed of the way I treat my wife.