West End Productions Will Present Harold Pinter's THE DUMB WAITER
For the second offering of its 2020 season, West End Productions presents Nobel laureate Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, a riveting mix of suspense, mystery and slapstick (!), directed by Joe Feldman.
Two hit men, Ben and Gus wait in a dingy, windowless basement room for their next victim. The dialogue between Ben and Gus, while seemingly concerned only with newspaper stories, football matches and cups of tea, slowly builds dramatic tension through the surprising use of music hall cross-talk, physical clowning, and pantomime. Suddenly, the men's ruminations are interrupted by the violent clattering of a heretofore unseen dumbwaiter that contains, as the play goes on, notes that make ever more insistent demands for exotic dishes such as "ormitha macarounada" and "char sui with beansprouts". Becoming frantic, Ben and Gus try their best to satisfy the unseen author of the orders. But their efforts are to no avail.
Harold Pinter is one of the few playwrights to have his name given to a theatrical genre: Pinteresque, which features ambiguity, uncertainty and the famous (some say infamous) stage directions calling for "Pauses" and "Silences". Yet Pinter himself can often embody ambiguity and uncertainty. When once asked in an interview to "...acknowledge there is such a thing as a 'Pinteresque' moment" the playwright replied, "No. I've no idea what it means. Never have."
The same can be said for the term "Comedy of Menace" which has also been strongly associated with Pinter's work. The term originates with the 1958 play The Lunatic View: A Comedy of Menace by David Campton whose plays are often mentioned alongside those of Pinter. The phrase is a play on words derived from the term "comedy of manners" where "menace" is a homophone for "manners" when pronounced with a Judeo-English accent. (Pinter was Jewish.)
The central idea in "Comedy of Menace" is that humor and danger are produced in equal measure and simultaneously. The drama critic Albert Bermel illustrates this concept with a unique metaphor involving 3D glasses. Looking only through the "red lens of amusement" or the "blue lens of suffering" results in blurred vision. But looking through both lenses at the same time creates the appearance of depth. Yet Pinter disavows this explanation of his work, too. In the interview cited above he also says, "You use the term 'menace' and so on. I have no explanation of any of that really. What I write is what I write."
So where do these contradictions leave audiences? In the hands of a master playwright, laughing and shivering at the same time.
Yannig Morin plays Ben, and Carl Savering plays Gus.
WEST END PRODUCTIONS, established in 2015, focuses exclusively on the treasure trove of theatrical gems, past and present, from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. WEP stages works ranging from classical repertory to the most contemporary of authors, and everything in between. Our pledge to Albuquerque audiences is to provide entertaining, thought provoking and heart-touching productions while always maintaining the highest professional standards.
THE DUMB WAITER runs at North 4th Art Center, 4904 4th St. NW, 3 weekends, from March 6th - March 22nd. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sunday matinees at 2 PM. For more information, season and individual tickets, go to www.westendproductions.org or call (505) 404-8462.