Nobel Prize-winning English playwright Harold Pinter wrote creative works for over five decades. Some of his voluminous works have been deemed “comedy of menace” and the current offering by the New Haven Theater Company easily fits into that category.
With Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter” being entertained weekends until Saturday, February 10, we meet Gus (Erich Greene) and Ben (Trevor Williams) who are in a cellar, marking time, waiting for something to happen. But what? Gus is fidgety and more than a little anxious. He is filled to overflowing with questions, inquirys he throws hither and yon at Ben, who apparently could care less.
Ben is preoccupied with his newspaper. He is reclined on a cot, oblivious to Gus’s many concerns. Occasionally he will toss out the hint of a startling news story, about a man being run over by a truck or a girl who killed a cat. Both men are occupying themselves until their assignment begins. But what assignment is that?
In this enclosed space, with spates of dialogue, we learn early on that Ben is in charge and Gus is clearly at his mercy. Even the innocent request to make a cuppa tea almost leads to fisticuffs. Frustrations boil to the surface, especially when an envelope mysteriously appears under the door and written requests for exotic food like Greek and Chinese suddenly appear in the dumb waiter.
A level of anxiety grows and the pair increase the volatility of their emotions. Gus wants food and they both want their instructions. Even though the stove has no gas, the level of tension in the room threatens to explode. What will happen next? They each have a gun that is all too readily at hand. John Watson directs this fifty minute drama of growing anxiety with a tight hand. Both men are controlled like tight rubber bands ready to snap.
For tickets ($20), contact New Haven Theater Company, 839 Chapel Street, New Haven, at the rear of EBM Vintage, a nifty consignment shop where you can look for bargains before and after the curtain. Performances are February 8, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m.
Come meet Gus and Ben, two blokes who are at each other’s throats, as they prepare for the known and unknown, as best they are able, while the audience listens in to the unpredictable events.