Jamie Lloyd Company’s Pinter at The Pinter Season is moving at such pace, it’s hard to keep up with each new offering. With Christmas just behind us, it’s the turn of Pinter Five and Pinter Six to take up residence at the Harold Pinter theatre, but for Five it is Patrick Marber who picks up the reins, directing The Room, Victoria Station and Family Voices.
The Room is Pinter’s first play, and as such offers a glimpse at the style we would all come to recognise as ‘Pinteresque’. It also allows the whole cast to be involved in the first act, with a role for each of them to play in this twisted and often absurd short play. Jane Horrocks leads the cast, beginning with a one-sided conversation with her husband about the relative merits of the room which they occupy. Things turn darker though, when Mr Hudd leaves the room and a series of intriguing visitors come calling, the ending is brutal and surprising, and leaves the audience hanging in suspense.
After the interval it is the turn of the shortest piece of the evening, Victoria Station which sees a dispatcher (Colin McFarlane) attempt to direct a taxi driver (Rupert Graves) to Victoria Station. It becomes abundantly clear that all is not well in the taxi, with the driver’s recalcitrant attitude as frustrating for the audience as it is for the dispatcher. The scenario unfolds perfectly, with the dispatcher coming to certain realisations at the same time as the rest of us.
The final play in this terrific trio is Family Voices, ostensibly a conversation via letter between a mother and son, though it appears neither receive each other’s correspondence. The son has moved to the city and inhabits a house full of weird and wonderful characters, while the mother (Jane Horrocks) frets for her son’s safety and mourns the loss of her husband, played by Rupert Graves, who does make an appearance despite being quite dead.
Luke Thallon gives a simply outstanding performance as the son, or Voice One to give the character its correct title. He beautifully captures that innocence of youth, captivated by the outside world, while still anxious at heart. It is thanks to his performance that the audience get to see the important themes which sit so central to Family Voices.
Patrick Marber has given Pinter Five the look and feel that is absolutely required for these three short plays. Each one is perfectly wrapped and delivered, making Pinter Five a wonderful post-Christmas gift.