I think Pinter Three finds a perfect balance in showing the purpose of theatre; capturing the idea of release, enjoyment and escapism but conjoining it with seriously challenging topics and relationships that really make you think.
Pinter Three consists of some of his short plays: Landscape and A kind of Alaska and Monologue, starring Keith Allen, Tom Edden, Lee Evans, Tamsin Greig and Meera Syal and directed by Jamie Lloyd. The night covers a huge range of stories and examines some very current topics, such as gender identity, toxic masculinity and age. Harold Pinter’s quick-witted snappy conversation creates comic genius and is easily picked up by the actors, particularly in Syal and Edden’s duologue discussing their relationship.
At times it feels like an odd collection of work, with tenuous connections between Pinter’s own writing and inspired pieces of new writing, monologues and duologues. Equally, the use of the revolve as a scene change, while impressive, feels like an uninventive way to jump from story to story. But Lloyd’s ideas are exciting and really bring the text off the page. The challenges are clear and easily relatable.
The show opens with Landscape, with Allen and Greig, in which the indirect conversation is easy to follow. Allen’s very clear actions and Greig’s ‘dead behind the eyes’ battle evoke a lot of sympathy. The two of them portray the dynamic shifts in Pinter’s writing with clarity; particularly Allen’s threatening climax. Greig and Allen, also starring in A kind of Alaska, shift character very well, finding intricacies that transport you into an entirely different world and story.
This is the first of the Pinter’s that doesn’t feel like an individual-heavy performance: each and every actor pulls his or her weight and they all have a chance and succeed in affecting the audience; whether that be through making us laugh out loud with great comic timing or pulling at our heartstrings as we see them struggle. They manage to produce a coughing and spluttering audience, even though silence is such an integral part of Pinter’s writing.
Evans’s monologue is endearing and highly entertaining, as he adopts a vulnerable and somewhat child-like ignorance and appears to be talking to thin air. Equally, his duologue with Edden at a bar is easy to watch and cleverly written.
My commendation goes to Greig and Allen. Allen’s young soul in a mature body in A Kind of Alaska is easily sent up, but Greig doesn’t do this, and instead embodies an honest and easily believable story, which at times is heart-breaking.
Pinter Three is playing at The Harold Pinter Theatre until 8 December. For more information and tickets, click here.