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Happy Days - Southbank Theatre (VIC)

Written by Samuel Beckett. Directed by Petra Kalive.

Reviewed by Martha "MJ" Latham

Southbank Theatre, The Sumner

1st May - 10th June, 2023


- A play that delves into the complexities of optism and its hidden dangers -

Happy Days is a play that delves into the complexities of optimism. Despite the bleakness of the play, there is endless self-deprecating humour to be found in its poetry. It is this juxtaposition of light and dark that makes the play so compelling.

In the play, the character Winnie (Judith Lucy) wakes up every day buried up to her waist with little more than the contents of her purse and her silent husband Willie (Hayden Spencer) by her side. Despite her dire circumstances, Winnie remains optimistic and determined to make the most of her situation. Her unwavering positivity in the face of overwhelming adversity is both inspiring and horrifying.

Photo credit: Pia Johnson

The danger of optimism lies in the potential for it to blind us to the harsh realities of the world. When we remain optimistic in the face of danger and uncertainty, we risk becoming complacent and failing to take action to protect ourselves and those around us. Winnie's optimism is a double-edged sword. It is what keeps her going day after day, but it also prevents her from fully acknowledging the dire situation she is in. Though her optimism kept her from taking her life, the result is that she loses even the ability to make that choice. Was it truly better that she kept herself alive, only to find herself in a far worse predicament? Is there really any beauty in choosing suffering?

The character of Winnie is brought to life in this production by Judith Lucy, and her portrayal of Winnie captures the character's humour, wit, and unwavering optimism in a way that is both captivating and thought-provoking. She is undoubtedly a master of the craft. The character of Willie, Winnie's silent and brutish husband, is played silently and brutishly by the award-winning Hayden Spencer.

Director Petra Kalive has presented a thought-provoking and compelling work that raises important questions about the role of optimism in our lives. The production's dynamic and compelling performances, combined with the creative team's unique vision, make this a must-see show for anyone interested in high-quality theatre.






EUGYEENE TEH Set & Costume Designer

PAUL LIM Lighting Designer

J. DAVID FRANZKE Composer & Sound Designer

XANTHE BEESLEY Movement Consultant

AMY HUME Voice & Text Coach

KEEGAN BRAGG Assistant Director


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