Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pinter's Briefs

My review of Pinter's Briefs appears in this week's WE.

'Briefs' the soul of Pinter's wit
By Andrea Warner

English humour is the foundation of truly groundbreaking comedy and social satire. With their dry juxtaposition of the awkward and uncomfortable, the English have perfected the melding of observation and etiquette. And more than a few modern heroes (Ricky Gervais, John Cleese) owe part of their success to Harold Pinter.

Pinter, the quick-witted 2005 Nobel laureate, is a master manipulator of language. Deliberate pauses, and subtext with more depth than a seven-layer dip, have come to define his plays, providing perfect fodder for stage veterans Simon Webb and Anthony F. Ingram in Pinter’s Briefs.

An interesting exercise for any theatre group, Blackbird Theatre chooses to run this revue of Pinter’s works in two acts: the first devoted to a smattering of single-scene plays; the second to his 1957 one-act, The Dumb Waiter.

The first act flies by flawlessly, largely due to the continuous revolving door of total character immersion and costume quick-changes. In particular, Ingram is a marvel as the rage-filled Controller in Victoria Station, but gets stuck playing this type of character a bit too frequently throughout Briefs. The phenomenal Webb has more opportunity to show his diverse range of talents, but he shines best in The Black and White as a haunting, haughty, elderly homeless woman.

The Dumb Waiter suffers moments of weakness — the story drags, particularly compared to the first act — but is still a great example of two masters building tension so stifling, it chokes the air from the room.

No comments: