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Harold Pinter at 75: "Voices"
October 7, 2005 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Harold Pinter at 75. In One for the Road, the protagonist is Nicolas, a whisky-sodden interrogator who has brought in a family for questioning (and, it is implied, raping and torturing). In the short, sharp shock of The New World Order, we eavesdrop on a conversation between two torturers, held over the top of their mute, blindfolded victim's head ("We haven't even finished with him. We haven't begun."). In Ashes to Ashes, the interrogation of Rebecca by Devlin takes a sinister turn as we learn that her ex-lover participated in state-sponsored violence. In Mountain Language, a sadistic guard plays power games with a group of mountain dwellers, who are forbidden from speaking in anything but the language of the state. In Party Time, Pinter lampoons the smug security of the middle classes, portraying an insufferably élite party which carries on regardless of the violence and terror on the streets outside.
Now, for Pinter's 75th birthday, some of the tormentors and the tormented so potently etched in his later plays are assembled together in a new dramatic work with a musical setting by the composer James Clarke.
posted by matteo (12 comments total)

 


I saw a performance of "One for the Road" in London in 1985, and it was truly terrifying -- one of those sparse pieces that makes your skin crawl, where the pauses in dialog are as menacing as the dialog itself. Still haunting (and memorable) 20 years later.

Pinter is genius. I haven't seen any of his works in years but I'm glad he's still going strong at 75. Good post.
posted by mosk at 9:14 AM on October 7, 2005


Pinter has been awarded the Wilfred Owen prize for poetry opposing the Iraq Conflict. Acceptance Speech: "What do Bush and Blair actually see when they look at themselves in the mirror?"

The poem:
...
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.

posted by matteo at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2005


War on Iraq: Pinter vs Wesker
posted by matteo at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2005


Interesting; thanks matteo.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2005


Super post.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:07 AM on October 7, 2005


I remember when we covered The Birthday Party in a Drama/Literature class, the professor said that, while western audiences often found the interrogation of Stanley to be kind of bizarre and difficult to interpret, audiences in the the Soviet block countries had no trouble at all understanding it.
posted by Clay201 at 10:41 AM on October 7, 2005


Eh he's no Peter Barnes now is he

(Excellent post)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2005


Hooray for Pinter! My first theatrical love. My favorite playwright. I go into him through William Friedkin's film version of The Birthday Party, which is quite good.

Maybe one day I'll even see a production of his work live...

I must confess, however, that at first I thought this post was going to lead to an obituary.

Eek!
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:15 PM on October 7, 2005


Great post, matteo! I'm with Sticherbeast, I thought this might be an obit - glad it's not!
posted by madamjujujive at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2005


Pinter at 75: chuffed to his bollocks
posted by matteo at 7:37 AM on October 8, 2005


Congratulations, Mister Pinter
posted by matteo at 6:08 AM on October 13, 2005


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