Pinter X4 | The Pearse Centre
Star rating: 4 / 5
Review by: Aoife Ryan
Venue: The Pearse Centre
Written by: Harold Pinter
Directed by: Peter Reid
Cast: Paul Kealyn, Aenna Barr, Vincent Fegan, Andy Kellegher, Rob Harrington, Neill Fleming, Duncan Lacroix, John Smith, Grace Kelley
Running until 2nd March, AC Productions are staging four of Harold Pinter’s lesser known short plays. The New World Order, One For The Road, Mountain Language and Precisely share the same thematic substance - the dangers of political authoritarian power. Known as one of the best new wave dramatists of the 50s, 60s (and onwards throughout his career) due to his recognisable succinct and exact use of language, all of Pinter’s work has a strong political undercurrent but it is these four short plays that broadcast political critique more overtly than his other works. For Pinter, everything must be questioned and the same theory applies to his own plays. Despite the brevity of his plays there is a mine of meaning within them, similar to one of his inspirations, Beckett.
The first of the plays The New World Order is staged in one of the large upstairs rooms of the renovated Georgian building. Lionel (Duncan Lacroix) and Des (Andy Kellegher) are two guards keeping watch on a blindfolded and tied man (Rob Harrington) who is kept unnamed similar to many of Pinter’s characters. As the blindfolded man stands upon a chair as presumably ordered, the two officers discuss his hopeless fate while he listens helplessly. The two uniformed men bark suggestive, aggressive threats about what is to come without disclosing any real information. All we know is this captured man is from another level in society, in that he differs in class or perhaps is an academic. While it only runs for a few short minutes, it is an excellent warm up act for what is to come.
One For The Road employs some of Pinter’s best techniques and is perhaps one of the most direct of his plays though it still contains the purposeful contradictions and allusions of all his plays. Nicolas (Paul Kealyn) is the foreboding image of bureaucracy’s might and the perils of totalitarianism right from the moment he enters the room. Following the first play, the slide doors are opened to review Nicolas standing in his office, immaculately suited and hair slicked back as he drinks scotch. Victor (Neill Fleming) is dragged in by a uniformed man, beaten and bloodied. What follows is an outlandish interrogation between the polished oddball Nicolas and the broken man. The degradation of family, social mores and morality on a larger scale follows suit as Victor’s wife and child are drawn into the mix, illustrating that nothing is out of bounds for this regime of terror. Similar to the other three short plays, Pinter uses language to emphasise its failure and limitations to communicate everything humanity undergoes. The psychological trauma inflicted on these characters is not captured by their speeches, but is reached towards by the gaps in speech and the underscored failures within them, made apparent through repetition for example. The characters’ inability to express themselves is sharply pointed towards again and again. For most of the play, Victor remains silent until forced to speak. Psychotic Nicolas uses language to entrap the family into confessions, pointedly saying himself that language is a tricky thing that must be handled carefully.
Mountain Language is based on the Turkish government’s treatment of the Kurdish minority, but can be read unsurprisingly on a wider level. Pinter stated that ‘there are some good rules and some lousy rules’. This statement fits as a summary of Mountain Language’s message. Once again a strict regime is quelling the people through fear and eventual indoctrination. Two women, one young and one old, visit the men in their family being held in camps. The arbitrary nature of the regime’s rules is illustrated by their sudden and unexplained change. The young woman (Grace Kelley) bows to the system by asking if everything will be ok if she agrees to have sex with one of the leaders. The older woman’s (Aenna Barr) refusal to speak her native tongue in fear of retribution demonstrates the cultural wipe out that follows totalitarianism. The crisp outdoors setting in the courtyard with the audience overlooking the action adds to the atmosphere.
The final play, Precisely, is held in the back of the Georgian house in a large bare room. Nicholas (Paul Kealyn) and Stephen (John Smith) are two bureaucrats discussing the number of people killed under the regime. The ruthlessness and clinical nature of murder in the modern age is starkly brought out by the cold and eerie debate. The room darkens and a spotlight is placed on an unassuming maid (Grace Kelley) who begins the chant ‘and on it goes...and on it goes’. For the two men, reality has been blurred by the distancing effect numbers on a page can have, and death has become meaningless.
The change of settings propels the audience into engaging more with each of them and finding the links between each play. The somewhat minimal background is suitable for Pinter’s style and allows for the economy of his language to take precedence. The entire cast are praiseworthy, but Paul Kealyn is particularly arresting as the effortlessly depraved bureaucrat. Overall the production rightly establishes Pinter’s writing as a rhetoric set against the propaganda that as he saw it infiltrated everyday life. At only one hour long, everyone should give it a shot.
Pinter X4 runs from Wednesday 20th Febuary - Saturday 2nd March at 8.15pm
Tickets: €12/15. For more info and bookings contact: email@example.com
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Saturday 23rd February 2013 | Theatre
No comments have been posted for this article yet. Be the first!
Log in to leave a comment
The opinions expressed here are those of the viewer and do not reflect those of Entertainment.ie. Entertainment.ie accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for their accuracy of content. Please contact us to report abusive content