REVIEW: Pinter Four, Harold Pinter Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Last Updated on 12th November 2018

Paul T Davies reviews Pinter Four, part of the Pinter At The Pinter season at The Harold Pinter Theatre.

Pinter Four review Harold Pinter Theatre
Brid Brennan and Robert Glenister in Pinter Four. Photo: Marc Brenner

Pinter Four
Harold Pinter Theatre
10 November 2018
4 Stars
Book Tickets

It’s an evening of contrasts in Pinter 4. The first half is his 1993 play Moonlight, which continues Pinter’s themes of memory and relationships, but it’s also, perhaps unsurprisingly, steeped with thoughts about mortality. In his death bed, the exchanges between Andy and his wife Bel are funny and poignant, angry and comic. Moonlight is not totally dark, of course, and the lightness and shade is exquisitely explored by Pinter, with Andy another trademark angry patriarch, here in limbo between life and death- captured perfectly by Robert Glenister.  In exchanges with Bel, whose strength and yet vulnerability is pitch perfect in Brid Brennan’s performance, their shared love for Maria, (a slightly under used Janie Dee here), is convincingly staged. His sons, Jake and Fred, (Al Weaver and Dwane Walcott), inhabit separate areas of the stage, cruelly mocking their father, and, almost as a music hall act, teasing Bel when she rings them to try and persuade them to visit their dying father , claiming they are a Chinese Laundry, but expertly conveying the complexity of their relationship with the cruel patriarch.

Pinter Four Harold Pinter Theatre Janie Dee
Janie Dee and Brid Brennan in Pinter Four. Photo: Marc Brennan

It’s Andy’s  need to be visited by his children that provides the sad spine to the play, as his daughter Bridget, whose wraith like quality is perfect in Isis Hainsworth’s performance, seems trying to get home, but, it is inferred, she died at 16. As usual, Lyndsey Turner’s direction is cool, precise and cerebral, and therefore a tad unemotional and over considered, more is to be gained from the comedy in the piece. But the focus here is the words, the script poetical and silence, like death, is to be avoided where possible.

Pinter Four Jessica Barden Pinter at the Pinter
Abbie Finn and Jessica Barden in Pinter Four. Photo: Marc Brenner

In contrast, the second play, Night School, is Pinter with the restraints off, and director Ed Stambollouian transposes the original 1960 TV play so well by using drums and percussion to drive the narrative and actors around the stage. Walter is just out of prison and returns to his aunties, Annie and Milly, to discover they have rented his room to a lodger, Sally, who is a teacher and goes to night school three times a week. It doesn’t take Walter long, together with patriarchal landlord Solto, to discover Sally is a dancer in a “gentlemen’s club”. As the aunties, Brid Brennan and Janie Dee are an excellent comedy duo, their view of the world shaped by misplaced romantic notions and cakes, and Robert Glenister flips his patriarch role into comedy with ease, with Al Weaver excellent as bewildered and then controlling Walter.

Robert Glenister Pinter Four
Peter Polycarpou, Abbie Finn and Robert Glenister in Pinter Four. Photo: Marc Brenner

It’s an evening of contrasts but the star, as always, is Pinter himself with his astute observations of language when even the most innocuous of discussion can take on deeper meanings. This season really is remarkable, and is unlikely to ever be seen again, and with the quality of actors assembled, not to be missed.

Pinter Four runs until 8 December in repertory with Pinter Three


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