Pinter Plays Explore Landscape Of Loneliness and Alienation

Pinter Three, Harold Pinter Theatre ★★★★☆

Neil Dowden
By Neil Dowden Last edited 6 months ago

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Pinter Plays Explore Landscape Of Loneliness and Alienation Pinter Three, Harold Pinter Theatre 4
Pinter Three at Harold Pinter Theatre
Photo: Marc Brenner

In this third multi-play show of Pinter at the Pinter — a season celebrating Harold Pinter’s mastery of short drama (read our reviews of Pinter One and Pinter Two) — the focus is on loneliness and alienation. The three most substantial works explore disconnection and miscommunication — where words are often used to mask rather than reveal emotions — in fractured relationships.

Photo: Marc Brenner

In Landscape, speaking quietly into a microphone a woman dreamily remembers a beautiful time on a beach with her man. Her lyrical, sensual reflections contrast with her unfaithful husband’s crudely prosaic account of his day walking the dog and going to the pub. There is very little interaction between the estranged couple who speak in monologues. Tamsin Greig superbly conveys her emotionally damaged retreat into her shell, while Keith Allen bristles with angry frustration.

Photo: Marc Brenner

In A Kind of Alaska — inspired by sleeping sickness case histories from neurologist Oliver Sacks — Greig plays a middle-aged woman who has just awoken after falling asleep 29 years ago as a girl. It’s a moving portrait of someone struggling to come to terms with a changed reality after being isolated in a frozen no man’s land.

In the poignantly absurd Monologue, the virtuosic Lee Evans plays a restless loner addressing an armchair with a jacket thrown over it as if his best mate was sitting there — though more likely it’s an imaginary friend.

Photo: Marc Brenner

The show also includes some lighter, more humorous sketches, including the early Trouble in the Works (a satire on industrial relations) and That’s Your Trouble (a send-up of a bar dispute), both with Lee and Tom Edden as sparring partners. Jamie Lloyd’s entertaining production uses a revolve to move from one piece to the next, alternating tragedy with comedy.

Pinter Three, Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN. Tickets £15–£99.50, until 8 December 2018.

Last Updated 14 November 2018