'Existential' ideas, particularly pushed by Jean Paul Sartre, and in drama by Samuel Beckett, examine the notion of existence – Why are we here? What are we here for? Is there any purpose to our lives, now that we're so divorced from everything of substance? What do our lives mean?
All this is taken to extreme in Happy Days. With no Fonzy in sight, it centres on a character, Winnie, who lives on a mound of land and doesn't move, bar quipping to her almost muted husband, Willie (David Crellin).
"She punctuates her days with reassuring rituals that elevate her mood and bring optimism to this stark, unyielding landscape" states the blurb from the new Royal Exchange production which opens on 25th May.
"Her mirror, spectacles, and toothbrush all conjure memories and snatches of ancient conversation; a long-forgotten world projected on to life's detritus" it adds "For Winnie, this is going to be a happy day, armed with her lipstick…and a gun..."
It's one of those stark-ish roles that's made for Maxine Peake to get her acting teeth stuck into. And, ultimately, Happy Days is 'life affirming'.
But is it of use to Salford people? Oh yes. According to the Exchange, it 'interrogates the complexity of our rapidly changing world, from our everyday struggles to the epic issues of humanity, making this existential masterpiece as relevant as ever...'
Say no more! This could have been written for current day Salford...
By Samuel Beckett, Directed by Sarah Frankcom
Friday 25th May – Saturday 23rd June
Monday to Saturday 7.30pm. Matinees 2.30pm
Audio-Described - Saturday 16 June, 2.30pm
BSL - Wednesday 13 June, 7.30pm
Captioned - Wednesday 20 June, 7.30pm
Relaxed - Tuesday 12 June, 2.30pm
Royal Exchange, St Ann's Square, Manchester M2 7DH
Tickets from £17 - Box Office: 0161 833 9833