by Harold Pinter.
Donmar Warehouse 41 Earlham Street WC2H 9LX To 28 May 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sa, 2.30pm .
Audio-described May 21, 2.30pm.
Captioned May 11, 7.30pm.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
Tickets: 0870 060 6624.
Review Carole Woddis 12 April.
Admirably done but cold at heart.
Harold Pinter considered death for a long time in his plays; in life he fought it heroically. In Moonlight, as in No Man’s Land, it seeps into every fibre. “Depressing, isn’t it,” said a young woman at the end. Yes, well, if you are staring unflinchingly down the barrel of the gun that is mortality, it’s likely to come out that way.
Moonlight, as was Pinter’s wont, is mysterious. It jumps around, disconnectedly. Every word seems wreathed in double meanings – even the clichés.
Memory, fantasy, alienation, cruelty, betrayal, class satire – all seem thrown into the pot in a disconcerting, disorganised but, being Pinter, highly-controlled manner.
The protagonists seem to be playing at playing their role – obedient mother, idle, feckless sons. Only the ghostly daughter, Bridget, and perhaps Andy, the curmudgeonly, dying father, seem to inhabit themselves without, as it were, satirical quotes round them. Irony abounds, as does harshness and ultimately diffuse, haunting pathos.
At its centre is ex-civil servant Andy. Beside him, his wife Bel bears with absolute passivity (like so many Pinter females) the battery of incivilities and obscenities he throws at her, swearing his love one moment and goading her the next with his affair with her good friend who, he implies, she also loved sexually.
Jake and Fred, the two sons, indulge in silly verbal games and puns with cod-posh accents. Parents and sons never connect except for one clenching scene when Bel ‘phones to tell them their father is dying. Their only reply is to pretend they are a Chinese laundry.
Bijan Sheibani directs with a shrewd eye to the waywardness of the boys, played by Daniel Mays and Liam Garrigan with, respectively, swirling, sardonic passion and dark-eyed, vagrant’s carelessness. David Bradley, as always, endows Andy with gritty truth and reality. Deborah Findlay’s inscrutable calm as Bel is terrifying.
All the same, with names like Andy and Bel and Moonlight partly inspired (as Pinter’s wife Antonia Fraser has said) by his mother’s death and visiting his 90 year-old widower-father, it might have had a more East End Jewish slant, with interestingly fresh and fruitful results.
Bridget: Lisa Diveney.
Andy: David Bradley.
Bel: Deborah Findlay.
Jake: Daniel Mays.
Fred: Liam Garrigan.
Maria: Carol Royle.
Ralph: Paul Shelley.
Director: Bijan Sheibani.
Designer: Bunny Christie.
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound/Composer: Dan Jones.
First performance of this production at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre London on 7 April 2011.