Tuesday, 4 February 2014

'Happy Days' Young Vic ****

You may be quite surprised by this statement that I am about to express to you today but I have never seen a Samuel Beckett play before. So when the Young Vic’s newest offering ‘Happy Days’, Beckett’s 1961 play was announced, it seemed fitting that I should go and witness this and from going to see it I feel it is a show you should most likely go and see and my fellow critics have been quite unanimous in that. The role of Winnie, one of the most formidable parts for a woman has been portrayed by the likes of Madeleine Renaud, Felicity Kendall, Natasha Parry and the ever wonderful Fiona Shaw.  However, the role of Winnie this time around is Juliette Stevenson whose version of Winnie seems very British through clear and concise thought of the middle class people in society. She seems to have incredible strength in her lower body due to the fact that Stevenson is submerged from her waist down throughout the first act and when we return after the interval she is covered from the neck down. She definitely has such diligence as she never moves from one spot in the entire performance so an enormous well done to her for her tenacity and bodily strength during the whole show.  Her movements are exceptionally executed and conveys the eccentric and whimsical personality that Winnie flamboyantly presents to us and I found her vocal delivery to be one of unbelievable pace and intonation that you soon become enthralled by the troubles that Winnie’s experiencing and at points you become moved by what she is speaking. It has been gratifying to see Stevenson returning to the British stage and her attention to detail when it came to using Winnie’s possessions such as her handbag, toothbrush and mirror were beautifully achieved. The sound within this production is vastly frightening as to convey a claxon or a pneumatic drill, just like Winnie herself who appears to have a panic attack every time she hears it, we seem to feel her pain due to the intense vibrations through the auditorium floor. Well done to Tom Gibbons for his extraordinary sound design here.  I thought that Natalie Abrahami’s direction for ‘Happy Days’ is outstanding as she captures the rise and fall of society where in the 21st Century we are always being careful with money etc.  She seems to have worked with Stevenson so affectionately that I do not care in the slightest that the play is female dominated. What can I say about Vick Mortimer’s design here? It’s simply spectacular and engaging in the most positive way imaginable and when you enter the auditorium you will be stunned at how phenomenal it truly is. I enjoyed my first Samuel Beckett and one you should go and see. It’s worth the money. 

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