by Harold Pinter.
Gate Theatre Cavendish Row Parnell Square Dublin 1 To 21 March 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: +353 1 874 4045/874 6042.
Review: Anne O’Leary 10 February.
Making clear the sounds of silence.
Harold Pinter’s 1960 play centres on the relationship between two mentally unbalanced brothers, Mick and Aston. When Aston brings a tramp home to their junk-filled London home he sets in motion a game of status and power-control where manipulation and communication are key.
Davies, the opportunistic vagrant, constantly whines about lost papers and unfair treatment, but his verbosity throws very little light on his background. He intends to make a place for himself in the unusual household, but not as the caretaker which the brothers have in mind.
Though Davies controls the flow of words, it soon becomes apparent he controls little else as he shifts allegiance between Mick and Aston. The brothers do not communicate – or even meet – much, allowing for powerful use of pauses and silence in rendering their isolated characters.
The action is restricted to one claustrophobic, dimly-lit room. The translucent back wall achieves a prowling, threatening presence as people approach. Attention is focussed on the only window and its persistent draught, through which Aston gazes while dreamily outlining his plans for fixing things and building a shed.
Marty Rea’s acting is superb as the meek character who has himself supposedly been ‘fixed’ by electric-shock treatment. His monologue describing this is mesmerising and he embodies the head down, slow walk of the silent introverted man so naturally the demeanour might have been his own had we not seen him very recently as the “impudent” Mr Marlowe in She Stoops to Conquer.
Michael Feast, long associated with Pinter, delivers a rich performance as Davies with his endless giddy, unpredictable gestures. Garrett Lombard is convincing too, injecting the right amount of menace into the psychopathic brother.
However, Pinter’s violent undercurrent is undermined by his comic listing of ideas for redecorating the room. Eliciting a loud laugh from the audience, Lombard does not succeed in getting them back to the edge of their seats for Mick’s attack on Davies – a lack of tension at a crucial point, which illustrates both the complexity of Pinter and that his work is not simply funny.
Davies: Michael Feast.
Mick: Garrett Lombard.
Aston: Marty Rea.
Director: Toby Frow.
Designer/Costume: Francis O’Connor.
Lighting: Mark Jonathan.