VICTORIA STATION/ONE FOR THE ROAD
by Harold Pinter.
The Print Room 34 Hereford Road W2 5AJ To 1 October
Mon-sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
TICKETS: 08444 77 1000/020 7221 6036
then Young Vic (The Clare) 66 The Cut SE1 8LX 6-15 October 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Runs 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 September.
Contrasting impact in production of short pieces about power..
It’s not hard to find Pinter plays about power and powerlessness. But there’s a fascinating contrast between Victoria Station (which is part set on the road), and One For The Road (which isn’t). In the first, a 1982 sketch, there’s an existential emptiness as power evaporates across the airwaves between a taxi radio-controller and Driver 274, who’s lost his bearings, claims to be in love with a passenger and doesn’t know how to find one of London’s busiest railway termini.
One For The Road, from two years later, is set in a room of the several-storey torture-house of a police-state. There’s no doubting where power sits, as Nick interrogates a beaten-up husband and wife, and, briefly, their son. The boy climbs in a mix of innocence and boredom around the rails of the set which serves for both pieces.
James Jeffs’ production, opening in Notting Hill’s Print Room before moving to the co-producing Young Vic in October, plays the brief pair without a pause. Surrounded by a row or two of audience, the controller who gradually loses control, and 274, parked outside Crystal Palace (he claims to see the building outlined against the night sky years after it burned down), are at opposite corners.
The cab isn’t shown – only a bare engine sits silently in front of a glass-topped table, on which Kevin Doyle traces patterns as if his mind, let alone his cab, is lost. Keith Dunphy’s controller has the means to switch channel and raises a fanfare of static. But, hunched over their microphones, trying to contact another driver or crying out to keep contact, both become points within the dark void around.
In One For The Road, brilliant light suddenly glares through cracks in the doors. It’s the searchlight of interrogation, the blast of an all-intrusive state. Theatre technology, strip-lighting, sounds are atmospheric, and the adult victims’ sufferings externally evident. But Doyle’s torturer lacks authority or threat; there’s neither open intimidation nor calculated implication of threat. Either performer or director has taken playing against expectations into the amorphous, and so the piece collapses: one for the bin.
Driver: Kevin Doyle.
Controller: Keith Dunphy.
One For The Road:
Nicolas: Kevin Doyle.
Victor: Keith Dunphy.
Gila: Anna Hewson.
Nicky: Thomas Capodici/Rory Fraser.
Director: Jeff James.
Designer: Alex Lowds.
Lighting: Mischa Twitchin.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Assistant director: Emma Baggott.