November 5, 1988
As technology has become more hyperactive, we the people have become more laid-back; as the deposits in its memory banks have become more fat, the deposits in man's memory bank have become more lean. Like Harold Pinter's servant, the machine has assumed the responsibilities that were once the master's. The latter has become the shell of a once thoughtful, though indolent, being. It is the Law Of Diminishing Enlightenment at work. - From the introduction to Studs Terkel's "The Great Divide"
May 12, 1987 |
If Abbott and Costello's professional lives somehow managed to stretch into the early 1960s, Harold Pinter's "The Dumb Waiter" would have been perfect for them. The pace wouldn't have matched, say, "Buck Privates," but the boys would have been too old for that kind of frenzied give-and-take. On the other hand, they probably would have been old enough to apply the right touch of addled merriment to this surreal, spaced-out brain teaser. The only people in the play are two hitmen - one headstrong and quick- tempered (John Travolta)
October 27, 1995 |
A man and a woman in a cafe, talking. Harold Pinter started with that image - and, being Harold Pinter, quickly set to wondering who the pair were and what they might be discussing. An old love affair, he decided, its embers long since cooled. And thus the playwright begat Betrayal, a play in nine short scenes that rewind backward (or mostly so) from that 1977 meeting to the evening nine years earlier when the affair began. The man and woman are married, and the woman's husband is the man's best friend.
April 2, 1987 |
By arrangement or coincidence, two contemporary plays dealing with the interrogation of political prisoners have opened in this city within three days of each other. Both productions - the Philadelphia Company's "Days & Nights Within," which bowed Sunday at Plays and Players, and "One for the Road," last night's entry via the Walnut's alternative Studio Theatre Series - are listed as events of the Voices of Dissent Festival celebrating freedom of speech in connection with the 200th anniversary commemoration of the U.S. Constitution.
January 27, 1997 |
There is, admittedly, a lot of humor in The Homecoming, Harold Pinter's strange play set among the members of a distasteful British family, but it should produce laughter of the reluctant, nervous variety. If an audience laughs freely and openly - in short, if it seems to be really enjoying itself at The Homecoming, as a Hedgerow Theatre audience was at a recent performance - it's an indication that something isn't quite right with the way it's being presented. What's missing from the Hedgerow production of this frustratingly inscrutable play is a sinister, brooding atmosphere, the sense that something unexpected - and probably violent - can erupt momentarily.
April 2, 1987 |
Three one-act plays: "One for the Road" and "Applicant," by Harold Pinter, and "Audience," by Vaclav Havel. Directed by Andrew Lichtenberg, costumes by Christine A. Moore, lighting by Rebecca R. Klein, sound by Jeff Chestek. Presented by the Walnut Street Theatre Co. in the Studio 3 Theatre, 9th and Walnut streets, through April 12. By arrangement or coincidence, two contemporary plays dealing with the interrogation of political prisoners have opened in this city within three days of each other.
September 20, 2006 |
Meg and Petey, proprietors of a run-down English seaside boardinghouse, have this conversation early in The Birthday Party: "There's a new show coming to the Palace. . . . " "Stanley could have been in it, if it was on the pier. " "This is a straight show. " "What do you mean?" "No dancing or singing. " "What do they do then?" "Just talk. " Harold Pinter is one of the 20th-century masters of "just talk," and his power lies not so much in what his characters say, which is often banal or ridiculous, but in the silences, the pauses, the terrifyingly empty space around the speech.
January 30, 1998 |
Sara and Richard, a middle-class English couple married for a decade, need extra titillation to enhance their sex life. A lover and a whore will do nicely. Deborah, the victim of sleeping sickness, is treated with a new drug and returns to the world she involuntarily abandoned. But while she has been trapped in the prison of herself, everything around her has changed. The two one-act plays that opened at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 Wednesday night both depict awakenings - or at least changes of consciousness.
June 4, 1991 |
Twenty-five years ago, after corresponding for three years with British playwright Harold Pinter, Cheltenham Center for the Arts finally got the right to present The Birthday Party in an East Coast premiere at its Cheltenham Playhouse. It was somewhat of a coup for the amateur theater to present a noteworthy play by a high-profile playwright, and as part of its 50th-anniversary celebration, the arts center is recognizing the event by presenting Pinter's play again. That background is helpful because, judging the production on its merits, there seems to be no other reason why Ken Marini, the theater's new artistic director, is staging it. Marini does not seem to have a point of view to offer on Pinter's difficult, deliberately enigmatic work.
June 5, 2004 |
The Vagabond Acting Troupe titles the Harold Pinter play it is presenting The Dumbwaiter, using the American form of the word for the small elevator that carries trays of food up and down between a dining room and kitchen. Unfortunately, the change obscures a pun fully intended by the British playwright. In England the spelling is "dumb waiter," and the two-word title makes it clear - at least when the play is over - that Pinter means it to refer not only to the food-service device, which he puts to mysterious and comical use, but also to one of the characters.