WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE: Harold Pinter Theatre
WHEN: 19/1, runs to 14/4/18
More than 60 years after the curtain came down on Harold Pinter’s second play in London after dire reviews and just eight performances, it is revived again.
- Read on for reasons including why one performance unbalances this revival
Rickson is clearly admired as you’d struggle to find a starrier ensemble than this in the West End at the moment.
Initially there’s much to admire here with Toby Jones outstanding as man-child Stanley who is the only guest in a seaside boarding house run by the doting Meg (Zoe Wanamaker, a fabulous mix of inappropriate affection and early-onset Alzheimer’s) and the aloof Petey.
Things turn menacing when the mysterious well-dressed strangers Goldberg (a miscast Stephen Mangan, who appears to be barely acting at all) and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (a terrific study in obsession and barely suppressed rage) arrive.
Pearl Mackie plays neighbour Lulu in an underwritten role that perhaps says a great deal about the time in which the piece was written. It is her story we want to hear more of as the narrative shifts in a far less interesting direction.
Ultimately, Rickson’s revival of the piece is inventive but the piece is rendered unbalanced by Mangan’s under-imagined performance.
We never caught Jones’s Olivier Award-winning turn in The Play What I Wrote but his character’s decline here is thought out brilliantly and given a memorable portrayal. It is the best reason to see this misfiring revival of a dated classic.