In contrast to its repertory partner, Pinter Three is comprised of no fewer than eleven of Pinter’s short works, yet manages to span almost every theatrical spectrum in just two hours, making it the most diverse collection of this mammoth season so far.
This slice of Pinter action has attracted some big comedy names to the stage, Meera Syal and Lee Evans most notably, but perhaps cleverly, chooses to open with a non-comedy piece. Landscape, written in 1969, is one of Pinter’s most discussed works, with many comparing it to the style of Samuel Beckett, probably because nothing actually happens. Landscape instead uses two concurrent monologues to examine the communication breakdown in a marriage, while Blythe (Tamsin Greig) recounts romantic dalliances of her past, Duff (Keith Allan) discusses more practical matters; they are talking, but not actually listening, to each other.
The structure of the opening piece means that the audience requires a degree of concentration to keep pace, so it comes as light relief that the next twenty minutes is comprised of shorter, and easier to follow, sketches. Meera Syal and Lee Evans show off their expert comic timing in Apart From That, swiftly followed by a remarkable monologue from Tom Edden, Girls is a comic piece filled with twists and turns of language and in Edden’s hands is pure delight.
So too, is the short That’s All sketch which sees two women (Lee Evans and Keith Allen) discuss a neighbour and her weekly shopping routine. It’s very funny and is reminiscent of Cissie and Ada, though interestingly That’s All was written a full decade before Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough hit our screens.
A religious inspired comedy monologue sees an American preacher (Meera Syal) extol the virtues of Hammersmith in God’s District, before Lee Evans returns for a monologue (entitled Monologue) which is more touching than funny, demonstrating Evan’s ability to really excel at even the more serious pieces.
Act Two opens with three more comedy pieces; most enjoyable of the trio being Trouble in the Works which again allows Edden and Evan’s to show off their mastery of comedy wordplay. Edden and Syal appear briefly for the more reflective Night, which resets the tone for the final piece of the evening.
A Kind of Alaska has to be one of Pinter’s most absorbing pieces. Deborah (Tamsin Greig) awakens from what is described as a very long sleep, she’s still a child really but finds herself in an adult body, trapped in a very confusing world. It’s a very touching and thought provoking piece and possibly the strongest of the season so far.
Jamie Lloyd directs all of the pieces in Pinter Three, so there’s very much a line of continuity, with each piece flowing easily in to the next. This is supported by Soutra Gilmour’s revolving box set, an adaptation of course of all the other sets in the Pinter season, but there remains something beautiful about how the whole set moves, and the cast pass through it as it does so.
Pinter Three gives the widest range of Pinter works yet, and is both beautiful in its design, and impressive in its performance.