Samuel Beckett's Happy Days provides one of theatre's most interesting roles for women, in the perpetually optimistic Winnie. Buried in a mound (in this interpretation, a mound of rocks) and facing a bleak future, Winnie keeps herself amused with a series of routines and the occasional interaction with the man in her life, Willie.
Pauline McLynn holds the attention as Winnie, skilfully delivering Beckett's many lines with the mixture of sadness, seriousness and silliness she has displayed in many of her acting roles, with Peter Gowen providing a humorous yet sad foil in the role of Willie.
The play is directed by Jonathan Humphreys, in his debut for the Crucible. The set makes unusual use of the small studio space, with the stage set up almost as a cinema screen. The lighting and backdrop add to the cinematic scale, and the staging proves effective given the mostly static nature of the play.
Whilst the production occasionally veers a little too much into over-exaggeration of its comedic moments, for the most part it manages to blend the absurd and the tragic well. McLynn and Gowen's performances embody the desperate and the hopeful within Willie and Winnie and leave the audience veering between amusement and disquiet as we ponder their fate.