Pinter Five: Classic Pinter Territory, Aimed At Those Who Love His Work

Pinter Five, Harold Pinter Theatre ★★★☆☆

By Chris Bridges Last edited 19 months ago

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Pinter Five: Classic Pinter Territory, Aimed At Those Who Love His Work Pinter Five, Harold Pinter Theatre 3
Photo: Marc Brenner

The Jamie Lloyd Company’s marathon season of short plays by Harold Pinter has been ambitious if uneven (read our reviews of Pinter One, Pinter Two, Pinter Three and Pinter Four). For the triple bill in Pinter Five, the directorial duties sit with Patrick Marber.

The Room is Pinter’s first play, and the stage is a dreary 1950s bedsit, dominated by a garrulous Jane Horrocks who witters on nervously about bacon and the weather to her deadpan husband, played by Rupert Graves. It’s classic Pinter territory: creeping menace, playful use of language and surreal absurdity. If you’re an aficionado then it’s a fascinating study of the genesis of his style that lead on to far superior works such as The Birthday Party, The Caretaker and No Man’s Land.

Photo: Marc Brenner

The skittish middle play Victoria Station jars tonally, but provides a moment of light relief as a bewildered taxi driver (Graves) struggles with the concept of picking a punter up from the station, much to the annoyance of the enraged controller (Colin McFarlane).

Finally, Horrocks and Luke Thallon are a mother and son, reading letters lyrically penned but unsent to each other in Family Voices. This was a 1981 radio play and in spite of the best directorial efforts, it often feels like exactly that: a radio play being read aloud on stage.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Clever sets and lighting, tight direction and sterling performances aside, this isn’t going to be a satisfying evening’s viewing for everyone. If you know and love Pinter then we suspect that you’ll get a real thrill from the menace, humour and lyricism. If you’re new to Pinter then you might well leave the theatre with a feeling of faint bewilderment and dissatisfaction.

Pinter Five: The Room/Victoria Station/Family Voices, Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN. £15-£99.50, until 26 January 2019.

Last Updated 09 January 2019