Global Productions present
The Dumb Waiter
by Harold Pinter
Gus and Ben are waiting… waiting for their next victim. However, the
Harold Pinter’s harrowing one-act play combines pathos, tragedy and black
Global Productions (Noises Off, The Hollow) bring this startling drama to
Gus - Lee Ocsko
REVIEW by Chris Moss
Global Theatre Productions
A PEERLESS comedy of menace, Harold Pinter’s deliciously dark fable The Dumb Waiter serves up so much more than the guns and gangsters capers penned by the Nobel Prize-winning playwright’s modern disciples.
The Dumb Waiter
Years before the likes of Quentin Tarantino began to win plaudits for their sharply-written dialogue, Pinter was experimenting with rhythm, tone and pause to explosive effect.
The interplay here between grouchy hitmen Gus and Ben is a fine example of the master at work.
But what Pinter manages to achieve through his masterful manipulation of language is only half the appeal of this brooding classic, which still resonates as a powerful allegory of corporate slavery and class struggle more than 50 years on from its first run.
Staging the play in the intimate Playhouse Studio was director Michael Philips’ first masterstroke, adding a palpable sense of claustrophobia to proceedings as the walls close in on the nervy assassins-in-waiting.
His next was casting Lee Ocsko and Chris Millington, two accomplished actors with an ear and an eye for exactly what their roles demanded.
Ocsko played Gus with a wonderful, wide-eyed menace, the jumpy junior henchman whose naïve, unthinking acceptance of his role as working class worker ant gradually gives way to self-awareness, guilt and a slow-burning sense of injustice.
Millington, meanwhile, was genuinely unnerving as sinister senior partner-in-crime Ben, becoming explosively violent when his imagined authority is challenged and taking great delight in pretending to be of better stock than his scruffy young accomplice.
The genius at the play’s dark heart is that the man really pulling the strings is never seen – the kind of untouchable, malevolent corporate master Pinter was railing against – and whose one-way communiqués via the dumb waiter ratchet up the tension between his staff and lead to the play’s bloody climax.
This near-faultless production deservedly won the Waltham Forest Festival of Theatre in March last year and on this evidence it should have gone on to win the final of the All England Theatre Festival three months later.
A triumph of style and substance, this was silver service from a group who consistently take the amateur out of am-dram.