MASQUE THEATRE ON TOUR
Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
Page last updated: 11/03/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012
by Samuel Beckett
Patricia Coleman as Winnie
Wed 15 February 2012 at 7.30pm & Sat 18 February 2012 at 8.00pm
Moulton Theatre, Cross Street, Moulton
Fri 24 February 2012 at 7.30pm
Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton
Sat 25 February 2012 at 6.00pm
The Fishmarket, Northampton
Cast & Crew
Winnie Patricia Coleman
Willie Richard Walker
Director Ian Spiby
Stage Manager Tim Bell
Assistant Stage Manager Kristofer Fortella
Foley Sound Stage Management Crew
Set Design Michael Adams
Prop Builder Derek Banyard
Costumes Clare Brittain, The Works
Lighting Richard Walker, The Works
Playhouse Tech Phillip Welsh
Moulton Tech Tony White
Programme and Print Design Tamsyn Payne
Scaramouche Illustration Rebecca Fey
Photography Joseph Brown
Box Office Patricia Coleman, The Works
Production No. 385
Happy Days and Scaramouche Jones were performed as part of the Masque Theatre on Tour mini-season during February 2012. The productions were staged at three venues in the Northampton area. The tour was part of Masque Theatre's 80th anniversary celebrations.
Ian Spiby, director
Happy Days is a play about a woman, Winnie, who lives buried up to her waist in a mound of rubbish. She is woken in the morning by a bell, occupies herself throughout the day with trivial things like brushing her teeth, taking her medicine and combing her hair until the bell rings for sleep.
Her husband, Willie, lives at the back of the rubbish mound and occasionally reads bits out of the paper to her and even more occasionally answers her questions but for the rest of the time he is silent. In the second half of the play Winnie has sunk deeper into the rubbish until she is up to her neck and can no longer move at all.
So what makes it such a fascinating play? Why on earth did we want to put it on and why on earth would you want to come and see it? It’s clearly not realistic – a “slice of life” and yet, looked at in a different way, a slice of life is precisely what it is. Using a startling theatrical image, Beckett makes us reflect on how exactly we live our own lives – what we are doing with them. Do we just drift through the day occupying ourselves with trivia? What exactly are our relationships with our loved ones? How do they work? Or do they work at all?
Happy Days is a funny, sad but ultimately invigorating play. It makes us ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions and holds a mirror up to our lives. It is a world away from Fur Coat and no Knickers, the last play I directed for Masque but I have found it an intriguing and rewarding play to work on. I am sure that you will find it intriguing and rewarding too.
We felt we had to see Masque Theatre on tour so on Saturday 25 February, Ian and I drove into town to go to the soon to be demolished Fishmarket. As supporters of Masque we’d been told that there was a good evening to be had there: two plays, a meal and the chance to go clubbing later.
Ian had gone ahead and found a table so we had a café-style view, with wine, in the Nook, plus new people to chat with and even heaters to sit by.
But to the plays. I’ve never experienced Samuel Beckett before and I’m not sure I want to do so again. That’s nothing to do with Patricia Coleman’s performance, which was very good. The set was black bin bags and we only saw the torso of The Woman. Her facial expressions fitted the words so precisely and she had a most marvellous range to show her audience. She was very well cast for her diction, clarity of speech and her memory. She was ably assisted by her handbag and her Man (Richard Walker). He made fleeting appearances and noises.
We then had a very tasty steak and ale stew; I just wish there had been more!
After a well timed interval, the second play began with a totally different set, more like home. I was soon mesmerised by Richard Jordan’s portrayal of Scaramouche Jones’s life: its twists, turns and chances.
The acting was superb. I knew I just had to give a standing ovation at the end, something I’ve never done before. As I was at the back, I couldn’t start a trend but others in front of me also stood. He was just so good in his role and many others there said the same.
For the directors of both plays, Ian Spiby and Kate Billingham respectively, I take my hat off to them for using their individual actors to create and sustain such an engaging evening with two very different scripts and performances.
Altogether, a very enjoyable evening with the double bill and I hope it will be repeated. The food, wine and café atmosphere all made it exciting.
And yes, we did go clubbing despite our average age being 63!