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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Review: Pinter 4 - Moonlight/Night School at the Harold Pinter Theatre


I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to review Moonlight and Night School, a double bill of Harold Pinter plays staged as part of Jamie Lloyd’s ambitious Pinter at the Pinter Theatre season.

Moonlight runs at just over an hour and has the kind of poetic mastery of language we have come to expect from Pinter. Centred on Andy (Robert Glenister) a man on his death bed, the play moves through his hallucinatory dreams and memories of his sons, his daughter, his former lover. His wife is ever present, embodying a pragmatic sympathy and something of a reality check.

His two estranged sons are preoccupied with playing out fantasy scenes to avoid the fact of their father’s imminent demise. These bizarre interludes highlight Pinter’s playful use of language, often utilising upper class, boardroom jargon to great effect. These scenes are played out around their father, his death a reality they are poignantly aware of, even when their mother calls and they continue their childish games and avoidance.

A girl in a red coat appears at points to deliver eerie lines, perhaps on the afterlife, giving the play a dream like quality which is very effective. Overall, I found this to be a compelling staging of this play, which provided an evocative musing on the nature of life, loss and death.

Night School is a more conventional play, and as a consequence had less depth. However, the performers carried this farcical comedy well. You can tell it was written for television.

Walter, a down and out Eastender has just been released from another short stint in prison to find his room has been let to an apparently virtuous teacher (Jessica Barden) who spends evenings away from the room studying at night school… Or does she? Night School becomes a joyous euphemism for her secret life as an escort in the seedy clubs of 1960s London.

When Walter discovers an image of her, he finds himself on a quest to discover her true identity… Abby Finn adds drama and intensity to this quest with her performance on the drums, and this added a welcome contemporary feel to a drama which is very much of its era. While it didn’t offer the same depth of meaning as Moonlight, there was a freshness of this production which was very welcome.

Thanks to London Theatre for a free ticket in exchange for an honest review. https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk/pinter-moonlight-tickets

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