Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some dislike it hot

Maybe it's because I am American and we are rumoured to be filled with 'unbridled optimism' (feel free to substitute the second word at will) that I tend to prefer reviewing theatre which I have enjoyed not just endured. For this reason you have not seen a review here of Harold Pinter's Betrayal currently on at the Donmar, nor his play the Dumb Waiter back when it was on at Trafalgar Studios. Please don't read any moral overtone to such self-imposed editorial line; it's just, well, I could never compete with the wonderful West End Whingers.

But, as today is press day for the NT's production of Pinter's The Hothouse you will likely be sandwiched armpit deep on the tube next to someone reading an Evening Standard review (or Guardian depending on your train's demographics). And after sitting/sleeping through the performance last night I feel obliged to offer up a disclaimer: there is good reason it was written in 1958 and not produced until 1980. It's just a shame it didn't stay gathering dust.

The Hothouse is not, by Pinter standards, a subtle play. (In this sense, it's the perfect Pinter for Pinterphobes.) It is an unusually antic variation on the usual Pinter themes (you know, Fascism, humanity's inhumanity, the unknowability of people, the slipperiness of memory and language). But the NT's production was everything good theatre is not: forced and unoriginal. Following in the existentialist tradition, in addition to writing absurd characters and situations, sitting through a production of The Hothouse felt absurd in and of itself.

It certainly makes Saint Joan the divine option of current NT offerings. And that has nothing to do with the effigy of a French woman being burned at the stake. I pray thee, nothing.

Saint Joan
National Theatre, until 4th Sept
seats from £10, book here


Anonymous Stage door said...

I would have to disagree CS.
I really enjoyed the Hothouse.
The script was great, lots of really fun dialogue that all read really well (none of that "What?" stuff except when I was going, "What was that about a duck?") and a lot of good performances - well worth our 10 pound day seats.

12:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be true I just bought tickets for August.

12:07 pm  
Anonymous Sheila said...

Saint Joan to the stake. Am going tomorrow night with Jim and Coen. Looking forward to it depsite the 3+ hour running time. OUCH!

12:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you expect from Pinter?

12:46 pm  
Blogger Parisian Cowboy said...

I love that shot here.

3:00 pm  
Anonymous georgie said...

The NT is notc oming up roses recently. I went to see Rafta Rafta and left at the interval.

4:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the French woman stabbing CS!

11:33 am  

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