Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Days at the National Theatre

Tonight: Happy Days with Fiona Shaw at the National Theatre. The set was absolutely astounding - perhaps the best I have ever seen. (Created by set designer Tom Pye, you can read more about the creation of it here.) The photograph doesn't really do the set justice - it was like the combination of the aftermath of a catastrophic war and the lonely surface of the moon with spotlights. When I read the play many years ago in university, I pictured the stage as quite small - something I thought as a necessity for such an extended monologue composed of fragmented thought. But the Lyttelton Theatre is huge and therefore it needs a huge stage presence to pull off the material. Enter Fiona Shaw.

She was luminous, just as she was in Woman and Scarecrow. Beckett is never given enough credit for his humour, maybe because it is difficult to pull off in performance. Shaw seems to have created the perfect blend to reel off these important lines: part deadpan delivery, part unassuming persona and part delicious irony.

The program quotes Roger Michell, who worked with Beckett on the 1979 production of Happy Days at the Royal Court. He recalls that at the end of one long day of rehearsal, Beckett said with a wry smile, "That's it. Now I must return to my room and resume my inspection of the empty space."


Steven W. Beattie said...

No doubt Shaw was spectacular (she always is, The Black Dahlia notwithstanding), but have you seen this?

Sarah said...

Too funny, Steven. Thanks!

Steven W. Beattie said...

You're welcome.