Pinter Four is made up of just two short plays, in contrast to Pinter Three running alongside it which has eleven pieces to get through. Comprised of Moonlight and Night School, this production sees Jamie Lloyd step out of the directors chair and hand over to Lyndsey Turner and Ed Stambollounian respectively.
The 1993 one act play, Moonlight takes up the full first act and as one of Pinter’s more abstract pieces it makes for a difficult watch. Andy (Robert Glenister) on his death bed, recounts in fragmented snippets his past, and most notably his love life with his wife and indeed other women, all while his sons Fred and Jake lurk in the fringes sharing in cyclical verse their estrangement from their father.
While Soutra Gilmour’s set is transformed in to a sumptuously decorated bedroom to befit the ailing civil servant, it does become somewhat confusing as Jake and Fred (Al Weaver and Dwane Walcott) also inhabit this space – the original calls for a shabbily furnished set to serve as Fred’s bedroom.
The performances are strong, Glenister’s Andy is worth the ticket price alone, while Brid Brennan plays the patient wife with great subtlety. The brief appearances from Janie Dee and Peter Polycarpou are also highlights, but ultimately it felt like Moonlight struggled amongst all the other stronger pieces that are making up the Pinter at the Pinter season.
After the interval and everything changes for Pinter Four, as the 1979 Night School takes us back to classic Pinter, a wildly funny and at times disturbing examination of working-class life. Just released from prison, Walter (Al Weaver) returns home to live with his aunts, expertly played by Janie Dee and Brid Brennan, to find his bedroom has been let to a young teacher (Jessica Barden) who attends night school three times a week. It doesn’t take long for Walter to discover that where Sally disappears to at night is a million miles away from being educational.
Ed Stambollounian’s direction is first rate, giving the piece a modern and fresh feel, the rotating set complimented by a drum kit providing real time sound effects giving the whole production a pulsating edge.
Aside from Dee and Brennan’s comic turns as the working class aunts, Al Weaver gives an incredibly deep performance as Walter, he totally grasped the character and embodied the ‘comedy of menace’ for which Pinter became renowned for.
Pinter Four finds itself playing a game of two halves, the first a little daunting and challenging to the audience, the second an absolute masterpiece which has been directed with total precision.