I haven't trumpted my work on HAPPY DAYS at Quintessence Theatre Group because, in all honesty, it felt a little presumptous to toot about being the second person in what is, essentially, a one-woman show. Samuel Beckett wrote this odd little tale about a "Winnie," a middle-aged woman submerged in a mound of earth, unable to move, or avoid the harsh glare of sun. Yes, her husband, "Willie," lives behind her, and is a constant target for her eager conversation, but he rarely engages her, and, indeed, is barely seen by the audience throughout the nearly two-hour show.
It is E. Ashley Izard who, as "Winnie,' IS the show, in every conceivable way. For two acts she bravely explores the optimism, courage, and frailties of her onstage persona. It is extraordinary, rare work from Ashley, which has, understably, taken quite a bit out of her during the process. "Willie," on the other hand, has but 19 verbal responses in the script, composed of 21 sentences and 53 words. But his presence is felt in other ways, and not all of them by the audience. For the first time in my career, I feel like I am truly playing a "supporting" role in a show. My work has been as much for Ashley's benefit as it has been for the audience, and it was very exciting to build that reality with her and our director, Alexander Burns. As fulling, in it's way, as playing "Faustus," or "Heathcliff," or any other.
Ashley truly gives a tour de force performance. I'm honored to have been a small cog in that process. We continue our brief June run, through this coming Sunday, June 26th at the Sedgwick Theatre in Mt. Airy.
(Also, Random Triva: It may be the only time in my career when I'm working in a show when everyone in the cast has five letters in their last name and the first letter is "I".)
Bill Chenevert for THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER:
"In the Quintessence Theatre's honed, sophisticated production - again timeless - E. Ahsley Izard, who takes on the central figure of Winnie with an impressive, tour-de-force performance, commands. She wrings humor, pathos, and helplessness from her part in a hypnotic performance."
Tim Dunleavy for DC METRO THEATER ARTS:
"HAPPY DAYS is a strong showcase for a great performer, and Izard, with her expressive face and patrician bearing, rises to the challenge. No matter how worn down she is, WInnie perseveres. And watching Izard persevere is a pleasure."
And, Rebecca Rendell for TALKIN' BROADWAY:
"Izard is absolutely riveting despite scripted physical limitations that would challenge even the most skilled thespian. [In the second act], Isaac utters only a single word, but his brief performance is utterly heartbreaking and curiously cathartic."