Pinter at the Pinter Season – Everything you need to know
On the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Prize winner’s death, The Jamie Lloyd Company presents an extraordinary season of Harold Pinter’s one-act plays, performed in the theatre that bears his name.
The renowned playwright’s short plays have never been performed together in a season of this kind, nor by a cast featuring so many stars. Undoubtedly, Pinter at the Pinter promises an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Everything about the Pinter at the Pinter season
Who’s starring in the season?
The twenty plays will be presented in repertoire by a company of world-class creatives, many of whom were Harold Pinter’s friends and collaborators. The cast includes Keith Allen, Jessica Barden, Ron Cook, Phil Davies, Danny Dyer, Paapa Essiedu, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Tamsin Greig, Jane Horrocks, Celia Imrie, Gary Kemp, John Macmillan, Emma Naomi, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Kate O’Flynn, Abraham Popoola, Sir Antony Sher, John Simm, Hayley Squires, Maggie Steed, David Suchet, Luke Thallon, Russell Tovey, Penelope Wilton, Nicholas Woodeson, Lee Evans, Meera Syal and Jonjo O’Neill with further casting to follow.
What plays are they in and when?
Moonlight / Night School cast (1st November – 8th December): Jessica Barden and more TBA.
Betrayal cast (5th March 2019 – 1st June 2019): Tom Hiddleston
What are the plays about?
One For The Road / New World Order / Mountain Lanugage / Ashes to Ashes
One for The Road:
Smooth brute Nicholas, head of the secret – or maybe not so secret – police, in a country that could be, and probably is, anywhere; which is not to say nowhere, but everywhere, interrogates Victor, his wife Gila and their seven-year-old son Nicky in a neurotically tidy office. The hideous torture portrayed on stage is entirely verbal and more sinister than physical torture could ever be. This disturbing, overtly-political piece about human rights and the abuses of totalitarian governments is known to have an emotional impact on its audience. It’ll leave you reeling.
The New World Order:
This ten minute play opens with an insurgent sat gagged and bound in a chair. Two interrogators discuss in vague terms the punishment they are about to inflict upon him. One of the men begins to cry, happy that they are making the world safe for democracy.
Mountain Language is about the repression of the weakest, depriving them of a voice and making sure that even if they can speak the “language of the capital”, they won’t be able to. This extraordinarily chilling short play has three sets of characters, two women who are visiting their imprisoned husbands, the officers and guards, authoritarian low-level officers, who exercise every bit of power they have and a single, hooded, political prisoner.
Ashes to Ashes:
Ashes to Ashes may give off an atmosphere of uncertainty, but every line of masterful dialogue is deliberate and it won’t explain itself to you. Devlin probes Rebecca about a past lover in a dimly lit room. It emerges that her ex was not just sexually dominating but also a top fascist official which leads to much confusion and envy on Devlin’s part, raising questions surrounding the topics of sexuality and cruelty.
The Lover / The Collection
The Lover is revealing and provocative. A husband politely asks if his wife’s lover will be coming today. She confirms that he will be and it is agreed that the husband shouldn’t return before six, during which time he will visit a prostitute. When the lover does come, he is the husband and his wife is the mistress. The lover is weary of his mistress and the wife remains disturbed by this news, confronting her husband when he returns. Suddenly the husband is not quite the husband, he blurs into the lover, and the wife must seduce him now as the wife, not as the mistress.
This extraordinary play analyses the subtle ways that the English exploit and manipulate each other. Stella tells her husband that while out of town at a fashion show in Leeds she slept with Bill, a young designer. The husband, James, sets out to squeeze a confession out of Bill. Initially, Bill denies everything, then changes his mind and elaborates on his tryst with Lisa. Harry, Bill’s rich protector meanwhile goes and talks to Stella, who denies everything and accuses James of making it up. Hilarious, nail-biting, and packed with menace, this is one of Pinter’s comedic triumphs.
Landscape / A Kind of Alaska / Monologue
Set in the kitchen of a country house, this play focuses on the communication barrier between a husband and wife. The two characters appear to be talking to one another, though neither seems to hear. The role of language resonates in Landscape as the action of play is paused. Beth reminisces about a past romantic affair and Duff talks of more practical matters, and finally has a short outburst of anger.
A Kind of Alaska:
After falling into a comatose state as a result of contracting Encephalitis Lethargica, Deborah awakes with the mind of a sixteen-year-old and a body that has aged without her consent. Her sister Pauline and Pauline’s husband, Hornby, who has been Deborah’s doctor since she has been ill and who may have fallen in love with her, attempt to ease her back into the present day, withholding secrets from her as they do.
Lee Evans will perform the poignant Monologue. The speaker, called only Man, inhabits a shabby room, and spends the play addressing another person. He pours his companion beer, but the armchair he addresses is empty.
Moonlight / Night School
Dominated by the fear of dying and estrangement from family, Moonlight tells the story of Andy, who is bedridden, and visited by his divided sons and his dead daughter, Bridget. Each of the characters desperately hungers for meaningful communication between both the living and the dead.
Walter, an East End villain, returns home from a short prison sentence to find Sally in his room. His aunts have let it to her in his absence. To impress his new roommate, he pretends to be a big-time “gun man”. But, Sally is also pretending, she’s not really a language student at night nor a PE teacher by the day, she’s actually a prostitute.
The Room / Victoria Station / Family Voices
The Room is an experience, alternatingly between the mundane and the terrifying. Where the elusive landlord really lived, who the unexplained couple seeking lodgings are and why the lorry-driver husband remains mute for so long are questions that Pinter will never answer for you. Watch in awe as this play meets its powerful climax and stabs at your conscience.
Mr Lloyd Pack is the mini-cab drivers’ controller and Mr Bates the bemused driver who communicate through radio dialogue. In this play, words and language fail to unite the characters in any form of understanding. The controller attempts to instruct the driver to pick up a client from Victoria Station, but Mr Bates declines to move, focusing on his current client who is apparently unmoving, perhaps even dead, in the back seat of the car.
Family Voices is about the delight of growing up and discovering yourself. A temporary exhilaration, of course, one that declines into regret as the years go by. The play exposes the story of a mother, son, and dead husband through a series of letters.
Party Time / Celebration
Set in fashionable London, Gavin, a smooth power-broker, is throwing a party. The guests talk of past romantic liaisons, exclusive health-clubs and idyllic holiday retreats. In contrast, there is violent disorder outside that is being savagely suppressed. Finally, the external world intrudes in the shape of Jimmy, the brother of one of the guests, testifying to the death of rebellion.
A group dines in the most expensive restaurant in town; Lambert, Matt, Prue, Julie, Russell and Suki. The discussion is intersected by the ponderings of Richard, the maître d’, Sonia the hostess, and an unnamed waiter. What begins as a celebratory meal descends into something a lot more sinister…
A Slight Ache / The Dumb Waiter
A Slight Ache:
The Matchseller arrives at Flora and Edward’s elegant country home. For the whole play, the Matchseller does not speak or react and Edward is utterly terrified of this “other” and an obsessive romantic jealousy bubbles over.
The Dumb Waiter:
Hitmen Ben and Gus chat and bicker about sports, the news, the snacks Gus has brought, and a few shared memories while they wait for their victim to arrive. An envelope with matches is slid under the door of the basement room in which they sit and a dumb waiter at the back of the room begins to carry notes to the men, requesting food and drink, to which Gus and Ben respond. They begin to argue about the reason behind the hit and when their target finally arrives, they’re not who either of them expected.
Relationships are tested in Betrayal, with extra-marital affairs coming to light. As the scenes unfold in reverse chronological order, Betrayal explores how their behaviour affected their respective marriages, Covering nine years in nine scenes, the story shows how the characters confess and end up betraying those around them as they admit their mistakes.
Where can I buy tickets?
To choose from the selection of Harold Pinter plays still on, click here. Or, if you have a particular series of plays in mind, the pages are below: