My love for the Theatre @ Boston Court continues to grow each time I enter their glassy Pasadena doors. What’s the current not-to-be-missed show, you ask? Happy Days. Not a show based on the 1974-1984 hit television show with our favorite leather jacket wearing Arthur Fonzarelli. Ironically, mama Marion Cunningham (Ross) was in the audience sitting behind me on the night of my attendance. It made me chuckle…but not that show. The show currently running at the Theatre @ Boston Court is Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. It’s the one with the woman buried by a mound of earth. That Happy Days. I’m glad we got that straight.
For Beckett enthusiasts, this is a no-brainer. Get tickets now. So often we have the opportunity to see his best-known play, Waiting for Godot, but it’s seldom to never that we have the chance to see this one. But it’s not just because you CAN see the show that you SHOULD see the show…
Happy Days is *essentially* a one-woman show. At the top of the play we find Winnie (Brooke Adams) under the rays of the hot sun, buried up to her chest by a hardened and dead mound of earth. Next to her lies a bag, which holds the things that keep her busy during the day. She brushes her teeth, inspects her gums, applies lipstick, perfectly places a hat on her head…(you get the idea) all while chatting at her husband, Willie (Tony Shalhoub). Yes, chatting AT him. For the most part Willie bangs around behind her mound, grunting and blowing/picking his nose or masturbating to a lewd postcard. He’s mostly unseen by the audience residing in his own hole in the ground behind the mound. Winnie is awakened by the sound of a bell and goes to sleep at the sound of another. In act 2, the pile of earth has reached Winnie’s neck. She chats with increasingly less enthusiasm and desperation begins to grow in conjunction with the reality of the situation. The bell sounding seems to serve as a deterrent from sleep and peace. Willie is noticeably silent.
Now, if that doesn’t persuade you to see the show, I don’t know what will. I kid of course, but I should point out the superficiality of the synopsis above. While all of that is informative and instrumental to the show, the minutiae of Winnie’s repetitive babble is complex and profound. It’s ALL important. Everything that happens on that stage is purposeful and imperative. This is the genius of the celebrated and strange Samuel Beckett. And this is the genius of director, Andrei Belgrader. He makes room for the actors to find their pace without allowing the show to drag into audience boredom. He allows the necessary humor. Belgrader finds balance. Thank God.
It would be ridiculous not to acknowledge the fact that the very popular Tony Shalhoub is in the cast. He brings some magic to the thankless role of Willie. He walks the fine line of milking the role with his eternal nose blowing and other shenanigans without crossing it. He’s enchanting to watch, but the reason to see the show is to watch his wife (yep, Brooke is his real-life wife) breathe life into a very complex Winnie. She is extraordinary. Takeshi Kata creates a harsh (yet familiar to southern Californians) landscape with a seemingly hopeful blue sky with fluffy white clouds. This production is the complete package.
Go see this show – even you people who don’t have the already present love and admiration for Mr. Samuel Beckett. You’ll all have something to talk about afterwards. Precisely what the Theatre @ Boston Court specializes in.
Boston Court Performing Arts Center
70 N. Mentor Ave, Pasadena
8:00 pm Thurs-Sat. 2:00 pm Sun.
Thru Oct 12th
$34.00 (I think the discount tickets are gone)
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes