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‘It’s hard work, as is the whole thing, but worth it for its sheer quality’: PINTER ONE – West End

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

Beginning with a burst of confetti and ending in a sombre drop of petals, Pinter One is the far darker side of Pinter at the Pinter

“They don’t like you either, my darling”

I found myself enjoying Pinter Two much more than expected and so momentarily forgetting that I’d sworn off the whole thing, I rashly decided to book in for Pinter One, which proves to be an entirely different kind of affair. Not just thematically – it’s an overtly political collection of works and thus considerably darker – but structurally, gathering together no less than nine short pieces, eight of which run together to make the first half.

They’re Press Conference / Precisely / The New World Order / Mountain Language / American Football / The Pres and an Officer / Death / and One for the Road (all directed by Jamie Lloyd) with Ashes to Ashes (directed by the Lia Williams) following after the interval. And so ultimately it feels a bit more like a showcase of Pinter which brings with it some challenges, alongside the interest value in unearthing some lesser-seen works, including a world premiere.

That premiere – The Pres And An Officer – manages the not-unimpressive feat of fully justifying its Trump-a-like as Pinter’s prescience in nailing the vicissitudes of a numbnuts US president is uncanny. Played by a roll-call of guest stars (I saw Jon Culshaw), its a welcome burst of comedy in an otherwise dark affair and you have to laugh, because otherwise you’d cry.

Elsewhere Paapa Essiedu and Sir Antony Sher are grippingly intense in the exquisite torture of One For The Road, and Kate O’Flynn and Maggie Steed are pointedly excellent as a pair of bull-shitting men. And what you get here that you don’t in Pinter 2 is a real sense of how imaginatively flexible Soutra Gilmour’s revolving cube design is as it reconfigures at every available opportunity.

Post-interval, O’Flynn and Essiedu tackle 1996’s Ashes to Ashes, a more typically cryptic work where a couple are talking and yet their meaning is slippery and vague and disturbing and unmissable. Both actors deliver their ‘conversation’ with the utmost conviction, its impossible to drag your eyes from them even as we get darker and more violent and stranger. It’s hard work, as is the whole thing, but worth it for its sheer quality.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Pinter One is booking in rep with Pinter Two – The Lover/The Collection at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October
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NEWS: Lee Evans steps out of retirement to perform in the Pinter at the Pinter season

In London theatre, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Quotes, Sticky by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

In what promises to be an exciting event within the Pinter at the Pinter season, Lee Evans will appear in an eclectic mixed bill alongside stage and screen favourite Meera Syal. They join the previously announced Keith Allen and Tamsin Greig from 25 October to 8 December 2018 for 23 performances only. Evans will perform the poignantly witty Monologue and a …

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‘It is damn hard to be this damn funny’: THE PRUDES – Royal Court Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Victoria SadlerLeave a Comment

I would recommend anyone to see The Prudes, I really would. It is damn hard to be this damn funny. Believe me when I say you will enjoy this play. You may even love it, and I would totally get that. But its missteps are entirely indicative of a male lens, which does make this problematic in parts. And that’s a shame.

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Nowt so queer as folk: Recapping the National Theatre’s queer theatre season

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

It feels important to recognise what the NT (and the Old Vic) were trying to achieve, though. Queer Theatre looked “at how theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience through a series of rehearsed readings, exhibitions, talks and screenings” and if only one looked at lesbian women, two of the readings were written by women.

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In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

In that little wooden candlelit nest of magic and wonder that is the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Sam Yates directs a dreamy, fairytale-like Cymbeline. Originally written to be performed across the river at the Blackfriars playhouse (and now playing in that venue’s simulacrum), the play is a tragicomedy with heavy dark elements (jealousy, betrayal, poisoning, the list goes on) none of which appears to do much harm to this reassuring and family-friendly Globe production.

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In Manchester, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Kristy StottLeave a Comment

Inspired by the Salem witch hunts of the seventeenth century, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible offered a commentary on McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee when it first premiered in 1953 on Broadway. Now, playing at Manchester’s Royal Exchange it is remarkable how much these themes still resonate loudly within our society today. Aside from modern-day witch hunts on social media for the latest shamed celebrity or the fear of terrorism and National Security, The Crucible also raises ideas surrounding the cuts to Legal Aid and those perceived as vulnerable, having to represent themselves in court.