In a pre-show piece in the Boston Globe, Brook explains how many have missed a crucial element of Beckett's work:
“They thought he was a sort of austere and rather forbidding, monk-like figure who looked at everything with a dark eye and saw nothing but human misery,’’ Brook said from Milan, where he was directing the “Magic Flute’’ that he will take to New York this summer. “And to find this man who loved women and good drink and good food and lived in Paris for choice, and was always every morning in a cafe, where he would be sitting enjoying himself with various friends, this man was not that.’’
Likewise the work, said Brook. He has been convinced for 50 years, ever since he saw the New York premiere of “Happy Days,’’ that there is “a shining thread running through’’ Beckett’s plays, even a capacity for joy. That it’s been largely overlooked, he said, is the fault of the existentialist movement.
“It was part of the human climate of the time,’’ explained the director, speaking from experience. In 1964, Brook directed the RSC’s Theatre of Cruelty season. “This was a time when in Europe there was a feeling that optimism was a bourgeois luxury that was too easy, and that the truth was something tougher and harder, and that the world’s bourgeoisie were refusing to look this in its face.’’