The Mail on Sunday - Event - - THEATRE -

Robert Gore-Lang­ton

Harold Pin­ter Theatre, Lon­don Un­til Dec 8, 2hrs 30mins

The great Tam­sin Greig stars in this lat­est batch of one­act Harold Pin­ter dra­mas that are be­ing staged by di­rec­tor Jamie Lloyd over the next few months. She opens with Land­scape, from 1969, talk­ing with an Irish lilt about an erotic en­counter by the sea. Keith Allen plays the hus­band who can’t con­nect with her. She is either ig­nor­ing him or re­mem­ber­ing him from bet­ter, more sen­sual days. Either way, this gen­tle reverie of fe­male de­sire is gor­geous to lis­ten to. Greig also ap­pears to truly dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect in A Kind Of Alaska, from 1982, about a 16-year-old girl in a nightie who wakes up after a 29-year coma in a body that’s grown mid­dleaged with­out her con­sent. Keith Allen plays her doc­tor, ten­derly dripfeed­ing her in­for­ma­tion. Meera Syal is ter­rific as her self-sac­ri­fic­ing sis­ter and carer who looks on, won­der­ing what has hap­pened to her own life. The bendy co­me­dian Lee Evans crops up through­out the evening, adding mirth. He fea­tures in Mono­logue, from 1973, in a one-way con­ver­sa­tion that’s both hi­lar­i­ous and tragic. He’s also a face-pulling housewife (with Allen and Tom Ed­den) in a ‘Do you know who I saw at the butcher’s?’-type skit, rem­i­nis­cent of the Cissie and Ada sketches that Les Daw­son used to do with Roy Bar­r­a­clough.

Trou­ble In The Works, from 1959, is about fac­tory work­ers who take um­brage against the wid­gets they make. As Evans’s baf­fled fore­man ex­plains, ‘They’ve gone vi­cious about the ta­pered-shank, spi­ralflute ream­ers.’

The sketch pre­dates Monty Python by ten years and re­veals a wel­come, play­ful side of the cur­mud­geonly Pin­ter that I never knew about.

Cre­ated by singer-song­writer Anaïs Mitchell and di­rec­tor Rachel Chavkin, this mu­si­cal re­work­ing of the Or­pheus and Eury­dice myth comes from New York. It’s staged in a speakeasy with a jazz band and a lift down to Hell, where min­ers slave away.Reeve Car­ney is like a young Cliff Richard as the trou­ba­dour Or­pheus. But Eva Noblezada’s un­ap­peal­ing Eury­dice (be­low, with Car­ney) screeches.Poor, soppy Or­pheus loses her to Hades while he’s com­pos­ing a love song.The live band is tight and the cast an­i­mated by An­dré De Shields’ cool Her­mes, Am­ber Gray’s louche Perse­phone, and by Pa­trick Page as Hades – a wicked Trump fig­ure ob­sessed with build­ing a wall and in­dif­fer­ent to cli­mate change.It’s a shame that the young lovers are so beige and that the show is po­lit­i­cally so whole­some.

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