by Harold Pinter
Theatre by the Lake In rep to 26 October 2001
Runs 1 hr 15 mins No interval
Tickets 017687 74411
Review Timothy Ramsden 9 August
Pinter close-up and personal illuminated by outstanding performance.
Judging by Stefan Escreet’s production modern actors have absorbed the famous Pinter pauses, once the subject of much rehearsal angst, into an entirely natural playing style.
There are losses; the glacial suggestiveness of traditional Pinter playing adds humour and suggests implications which can be lost in more realistic playing. But there are gains in this play where Pinter unreels a nine year affair between writer’s agent Jerry and publisher’s wife Emma.
Each jump back is preceded by scenes moving sequentially; like rewinding a cassette, listening to some of the tape, then spooling further back. Clear too, in the microscopic viewing intimacy of the Theatre by the Lake’s studio, is how much the famous Pinter menace lies not in the aggressor but in the reaction (often guilt-based) of whoever’s on the receiving end.The world of publishing is evoked in Jocelyn Meall’s design, which builds furniture out of piles of books. It’s witty but undifferentiated in atmosphere. Except for one detail; the anonymous volumes are humanised by the table cloth Emma buys for their hideaway and which, thanks to the spooling back of time, we have already seen lying ignored in the later, souring stage of their relationship.
Vocally, Richard Metcalfe’s Jerry could do more to suggest a survivor in the rough trade of hawking writers’ manuscripts. As Emma’s husband Robert, Christopher Wright clearly charts the conflicting demands of wife, friend and colleague.
But the heart of the evening is Laura Richmond’s Emma, a woman whose career has been as wife and mistress. Marking each moment of anxiety and affection from the opening scene’s tense revulsion as the relationship dies to the relaxed joy of the final scene when the betrayal begins, Richmond’s Emma, seen by the men as their adornment, is paradoxically the most human being on stage.
Waiter: Dennis Herdman
Jerry: Richard Metcalfe
Emma: Laura Richmond
Robert: Christopher Wright
Director: Stefan Escreet
Designer: Jocelyn Meall
Lighting: Annie Emery
Sound: Paul Bunn
Video: David Robert