Happy Days

Delia Taylor gives a gleeful yet genteel reading of Winnie, Beckett’s lady of the mound—indeed, it’s musical: her “Hoo-oo!” summons of Willie (Jose Carrasquillo) is particularly fine. Taylor’s eyes (a key to this role) are mobile and expressive; her various reactions to the revolver in her bag are effective. Carrasquillo adopts a creaky old man’s voice for Willie that doesn’t quite fit.

Technical elements in this production are mixed. Here, the mound that encloses Winnie is a clever extension of her elegant china blue brocade dress. Tony Cisek’s design also places Winnie high enough off the deck so that we all can see her clearly, especially in Act 2. But the constraints of working in Artisphere’s black box theater leave Winnie pinned onstage during the intermission, so that the transition to her neck-deep state in Act 2 has to happen in black, after an unnecessary introductory “the days pass” lighting effect. And the challenge of Beckett’s specification “Maximum pause. The parasol goes on fire. Smoke, flames if feasible” isn’t met.

The program notes that provide the details of the allusions in Winnie’s text (Shakespeare, Milton, Robert Browning, Thomas Gray, and others) are quite helpful.