‘Exploring how subjective memories can be’: PINTER FOUR – West End

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Harold Pinter Theatre, London – until 8 December 2018

Thing about blogging is you can’t hide from the past, or your past opinions, so the fact that the first time I saw Harold Pinter’s Moonlight was one of the most torturous hours I’d spent in a theatre up until then is no secret. So the fact that it was included along with Night School in the double bill that makes up Pinter Four gave me significant – Pinteresque even… pause.

But that was seven years ago, people change, as do tastes, and the luxury casting of the Pinter at the Pinter season makes it an attractive enough proposition to revisit. And am I a now Moonlight convert? Not exactly, but it does prove a less painful experience, even if it does still maintain a power to elongate time which is exacerbated by its coolly distant demeanour.

Lyndsey Turner shrinks the world of the play down to the bedroom of Andy, terminally ill and raking over his memories with a gimlet eye. As his impossibly tolerant wife Bel cares for him, he remembers past events and lovers and friends but it is an embellished version of the past, Pinter exploring the way just how subjective those memories can be.

Robert Glenister is ferociously bitter from his bed, Bríd Brennan is wittily dry as the wife who has her own secrets and there’s a brilliant cameo from Janie Dee as someone from both their pasts. Dwane Walcott and Al Weaver have a much more difficult job though as Andy’s estranged sons, their physical and emotional distance unbridged by play and production (great suits and Converse though…).

Night School proves a more traditional piece of Pinter fare, a slice of East End life full of criminals and gangsters, women who aren’t what they say they are or full-on Hackney chars. It’s lighter and funnier (farcical even) and given a striking production by Ed Stambollouian who introduces a live drummer onstage to reinforce the underlying note of menace. Weaver leads this play with aplomb and I enjoyed Jessica Barden’s performance but overall, Pinter 4 doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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