by Samuel Beckett.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 8 March 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 15, 22, 26 Feb, 8 March 2pm.
Audio-described 18 Feb.
Captioned 20 Feb.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 February.
Fully guaranteed 100% genuine pure Beckett revelation.
Among the many aspects of life Samuel Beckett rejected, religion was one present in his early days. So it’s natural enough his main character begins with muttered Christian pieties. But it’s only when these are done that the day really starts for Juliet Stevenson’s Winnie.
She’s a material girl, woken by an alarm-clock (here, an intense drill-like ringing), coming to life when she turns her attention to her big bag of belongings, which will help her through what she calls another happy day.
But for all her energy, the materials she exults in are perched on a rocky mountains-side, the earth holding Winnie up to her waist (and later, her neck). Sometimes it threatens to trickle down and cover her further. And Stevenson suggests, underneath the most apparently ecstatic moments, a sense of anxiety. As references to another happy day recur rather too frequently, the strain shows.
When she’s buried up to her neck, her stylish hair reduced to swept-back plainness, face peeking out of the ground as if already earth-encrusted like the faces Beckett would create in Play, Winnie’s prattlings have a more desperate impact.
For Stevenson, in what if the term means anything is a star performance, combines a sense of the individual with the general – the gift of great acting. On one level, in her flowery dress, straight (it might be) from the hair-salon, she is the tediously talkative woman in the shopping queue or café; yet she also suggests, for all people, the profound abysm below the delicate surface of daily activities that make her think herself happy.
Among which is sex. Natalie Abrahami’s production makes clear it’s a desire for a romantic union based in physical pleasure that Winnie sees as part of happiness. It’s less certainly so for David Beames’ Willie. A brawny figure rasping out newspaper phrases of apparent irrelevance on the periphery of Winnie’s view, he moves from bare-top to formal evening dress, its darkness offset by a grey military moustache. The final image as he attempts to crawl upwards while her face looks on is as desolate as the world around.
Winnie: Juliet Stevenson.
Willie: David Beames.
Director: Natalie Abrahami.
Designer: Vicki Mortimer.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Tom Gibbons.
Movement: Joseph Alford.
Voice: Emma Woodvine.
Assistant director: Alice Knight.
Associate lighting: Nicki Brown.