After the play finished, a few good friends walked towards me. “Wait, so what happened?” My friend Alex’s facial muscles were contorted. “What the fuck just happened?” It is in this question that the play smacked the nail on the head. The actors did an excellent job of portraying the tensions and ambiguities of this sexually charged, clenching domestic drama. Like Alex, I clenched and contorted my face all the way through, and watched as confused neighbours did the same.
Hugo Macpherson did a particularly excellent job of capturing the quick-witted, sinister pimp, Lenny. Macpherson’s performance stood out to me, as his character seemed unaffected by the violent and sexual motifs. It was in this nonchalance that the play’s effect became all the powerful. Why is no one caving under the pressure? Why is Lenny acting so ‘normal’, when everything seems to be on the brink of collapse? Other characters gave a more emotional performance, particularly Rupert Stonehill as Teddy. He played an angry Teddy, rather than the passive figure I took from reading the play.
I like to think of Pinter’s plays as an arrangement of characters. The audience witnesses this arrangement, and takes what they will from it. In a speech at the National Student Drama Festival, Harold Pinter explained: “I do all the donkeywork, in fact, and I think I can say I pay meticulous attention to the shape of things, from the shape of a sentence to the overall structure of a play. This shaping is of the first importance—you arrange and you listen, following the clues you leave for yourself through the characters.”
My one criticism would be this play was a bit heavy handed in expressing these ‘clues’. I was unsurprised when Sam alerted the audience that Mac had slept with Jesse, after strongly insinuating this fact through the pauses in his early speech. The play was wrought with strong clues and emotions, which made it slightly less alarming and perplexing for the audience. Adam Goodbody’s performance of Uncle Sam was incredibly unique and intriguing. He played the part with a slight smirk and his own brand of boyishly handsome restraint. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this production, and deem it a loyal and intriguing rendition of the play.