photo: Scott Landis
Psst. I have a confession to make. I don't enjoy Harold Pinter's plays. I can see why lots of other people do, but even this one - widely considered his masterwork - drives me to immediate distraction. Am I the only one who sees it as passe, a relic from a time when it was considered intellectually fashionable to aggressively jolt an audience out of its passivity? It's the theatrical equivalent of films like Last Year At Marienbad or Antonioni's Blow-Up which leave the audience to puzzle out meaning in their seats. There's nothing wrong with forcing an engaged audience into deconstruction and analysis, but when the result is Pinter's blend of blatant artificiality and relentless nastiness I begin to wonder if he's getting at anything deeper about the human condition than "everyone is rotten". In this one, we are probably meant to think that the endless power games and pervasive air of sickness are somehow just us at our worst, the dark "truth" about how people truly are once you get past the socialization. I reject that; it rings as false to me today as it would if everyone ran around smiling ear to ear for two hours.