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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | April 2, 2020

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Queensland Theatre Company presents Happy Days

Queensland Theatre Company presents Happy Days

| On 01, Aug 2015

Theatre icon Carol Burns has stepped into the role of Winnie, one of theatres most demanding and complex female characters in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. Queensland Theatre Company’s revival of the classic is sure to divide opinions and be a topic of discussion for days.

As the curtain opened, the audience is met by Winnie – an aging woman who is buried from the waist down in a mound of dirt. The precision and detail of the set design by Penny Challon transported the audience into the harsh environment where Winnie spends her days. The spotlight on her resembled the hot sun as it beamed down and emphasised the dried up land. Despite this, Winnie is optimistic even though she has every reason not to be.

The role of Winnie is a challenging one as it required Burns to maintain the audience’s attention for 90 minutes through what is essentially a monologue. Winnie rambles on about anything she can in order to get through her day.

She tries unsuccessfully to gain the attention of her husband Willie who is played by Steven Tandy. His bloody head is all that the audience see of him in the first act and his grunts, cackles and coughs are the only evidence that he isn’t dead. Despite not being visible for most of the show he proved to be a powerful presence. His refusal to communicate with his wife sparks curiosity amongst the audience.

Carol Burns

Act Two showed Winnie buried up to her neck with no mobility except for in her face. The second half of the show proved why Burns is considered one of the finest actors Australia has to offer. She conveyed a desire to be loved, a burning madness and unbearable sadness through pursed lips, deep frowns and wide eyes.

The simplicity of the play allowed the audience to become completely immersed in the character of Winnie.For those not expecting to spend 90 minutes watching a monologue with hardly any special effects or music might find this piece of theatre challenging.

Happy Days, like most of Beckett’s plays does not provide the audience with a clear message. As the curtain closed, I could hear the audience begin to chatter about what they had just witnessed. Was Winnie’s situation a metaphor for how we feel in our daily lives or was it simply nonsense? Happy Days does not attempt to answer these questions but rather sparks many more.


What Happy Days

Where Bille Brown Studio, The Greenhouse

When  18 Jul – 15  Aug, 2015

How Much $33 – $50

More information To purchase tickets, visit the Queensland Theatre Company website here

Image Credits: Queensland Theatre Company