Thursday, April 01, 1999

ACT Does Pinter

Karen Rawline’s review of Evening of Pinter in The Buzz

Absurdity, banality, and disjointed chatter. These are some of what Harold Pinter’s plays are made of.

ACT (a community theatre) recently offered two Pinter plays March 5 through 7, directed by Sean McQuaid.


First was A Slight Ache. This seemed a tale of an aging couple immersed in the tedious details of their lives. Paul Whelan (as Edward) and Barbara Rhodenhizer (as Flora) did an excellent job at portraying these intricacies, while Greg Hughes (as the Match-seller) offered his stoic composure to heighten the tension without uttering a word.

A silent match-seller outside the couple’s home has Edward demanding answers as to the stranger’s identity, while the compassionate Flora tries to move his name from his lips more seductively. A each continues the quest to discovering the match-seller’s name, the longest day of the year offers the most minutes for small obsessions, and, in turn, the most opportunity for spirals - downward or otherwise. Flora leaves Edward with the Match-seller, whom she believes to be a long lost love. Edward remains alone.

Second was The Lover. Equal doses of marital stress and bliss, this staging was perhaps more accessible than the first. Rex McCarville-Noel (as Richard) and Catherine MacDonald (as Sarah) handled the density of the story smoothly, letting the audience in on their relationship’s tangles - equal parts spider web and little girls skipping about a Maypole. Jonathan C. Stewart’s cameo as John was as polished as the rest of the performance.

Both plots were thick with banal conversation, and the power games of personal relationships, and the casts did an exceptional job at highlighting particulars, such as Edward’s subtly trembling hands in A Slight Ache, or the amusingly frisky tambourine scene in The Lover. The audience answered the hidden moral question when they continued or stopped laughing.

Sets and lighting were non-intrusive, entrusting the acting to the actors. Tight stage management kept incidentals from clogging the flow of the plot.

Another fine ACT product.

- Karen Rawlines

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