WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE? Harold Pinter Theatre RUN TIME: 2 hours and 40 minutes (including a 30-minute interval)
WHEN?: 9/11, runs to 8/12/18
We’re halfway through the Pinter At The Pinter season in the West End and there’s a real gem of 1 of his less well-known 1-act plays after the interval here.
- Read on for reasons including how Follies star Janie Dee transforms herself (see below) in Les Dawson fashion
We’ve been here since Pinter One and this is the 1st time we’ve felt moved to write something because the quality of the work has been variable and the anthology nature of this season means there is often so much going on that it’s difficult to connect and invest.
The problem is less acute here with just 2 1-act plays to contend with. We weren’t impressed at all by Moonlight (1993) which opens this evening but Night School which follows, and was written in 1979, is memorably directed by Ed Stambollouian.
Walter (Al Weaver, very good on TV in Mike Bartlett’s Press but excelling himself here) returns home from prison to find his aunts (Janie Dee and Brid Brennan, pictured below, hilarious) have rented out his room.
The use of drummer Abbie Finn is unusual but we felt the enthusiastic dancing of Jessica Barden and revolve to reveal a gaudy nightclub’s backdrop were imaginative.
Dee may be familiar to you from Follies (which returns to the National next year) or Monogamy at the Park Theatre. Anyone who has seen those performances will know she can do comedy but will appreciate her transformation into a dowdy aunt with a penchant for face cream and an ability to evoke Les Dawson in drag as she morphs into the funniest creation we’ve seen on stage in a long, long time.
The last time we saw Robert Glenister was this time last year in far less happy circumstances when he collapsed on stage causing the show to be cancelled but he’s convincing and charismatic in both parts here.
There have been things to note in this Pinter season (a bold stylistic opening by Jamie Lloyd, a brave attempt at grouping together some of Pinter’s more political work, a delightfully sour relationship between David Suchet and Russell Tovey, an occasionally hilarious Lee Evans and an affecting Tamsin Greig) but we’re looking forward to more of the delights that Night School taught us.