A trio of Pinter plays at Andrews Lane
The creaking stair-case, a musty attic, the vaulted ceiling coated in bright hot lights. The Andrews Lane Studio rises above the popular theatre in its classic amber building, stretching above the mantles of grey and brown structures that circle the quaint narrow lane, which forms its name. The studio is on its final run. As the bull dozers warm up in preparation for the final assault, scheduled is a series of absorbing classic plays, performed in short bursts encompassing just a number of days, celebrating the myriad nature of the studio's experimental theatrical career. The current production a brace of Harold Pinter's infamous ‘ten minute' explorations tacked against the author's searing social diatribe, Party Time.
The evening's performance begins (as the rain trundles in the background) with the imitable Party Time – which is a perfect expression of Pinter's invasive talents. Occupying a simple structure, an upper crust gathering of haughty socialites, brimming with distaste at the political climate and lost in their materialistic worlds, are absorbed in etiquette and peered social distinction, as a military presence hints in the background of their unnamed city (read: London) disjointing their lives in quietly subtle moments. Pinter draws out the anger of several of the guests (at the intrusion of the states national concerns in their lives) in swift surges of invective, devoid of social morality and drowned in the selfish isolationist rhetoric of aloof aristocrats.
Simmering behind the words and embroiled in the plays theme are the foundations of a fascist system, in which Pinter carefully layers the myopic elite who are far too preoccupied with their empty lives to grasp the changes inherent in the amended order.
This theme is brilliantly conveyed through long sweeping monologues - from Terry (David Ryan) and Liz (Elaine Reddy) glorifying their social status as the evils of the outside world remain distant to their obtuse conscience'. Death itself fails to intrude as one of the young guests, Dusty, laments her brothers' disappearance and her husband explodes in rage at the interference of the national problems into the gatherings elite conversation. Harold Pinter's masterful use of language dominates the production; his extremely careful use of repetition – which enunciates the context of the characters' conversations – is perfectly adroit and beautifully penned.
Party Time singes the political chords, lightly dabbing at this self-preoccupied group of aristocrats who are evidently to blame for the maelstrom of activity which builds up outside their staunch revelry. The twin short plays that follow Party Time rush to strike that same political chord with a tremendous heave. Precisely, which follows after a short intermission, is a singularly abrupt construct formed as a general outline of a particular dramatic instance, known in Pinteresque language as a ‘sketch'. Two callous figures discuss in pointed crisp dialogue what level of dead would be acceptable at an anti-nuclear weapons show. Their eerie comments devoid of human nature linger in the audience as the protagonists gingerly sip a straight malt whiskey, the fathomless dead simple words on the wind.
New World Order is the second short, a shiveringly malevolent scene which displays a prisoner-of-war sitting with his head couched in soft black cloth; his two burly guards grin with iniquity as they needle and insinuate threats against their trembling prey. The stifling nature of their caustic words holds clear references to natural loss of freedom and the sudden shifting twist hits markedly, resonating in today's oppressive political climate, as only Harold Pinter could ever fully deliver.
A tremendous politically adept and poetic trilogy which cuts to the bone in a disturbing age of social indifference and surging national intolerances, this Tardy Lasso Production draws the Andrews Lanes Studio towards its climatic conclusion in a justifiably brilliant show-case of searing play writing at its most exceptional. Long after the bull dozers cool Harold Pinter's soaring words will cascade upon his audience, though the venue will have tragically changed.