Oxford Playhouse has recently mounted several successful in-house
productions, to which it now adds this quite breathtaking new interpretation
of Pinter's 1957 one-act play.
by 6 further short pieces, largely from the playwright's earlier
career it is directed by well-known actor and director Douglas Hodge.
the first half of the evening, Pinter's sparse and assured prose
serves as a timely reminder of how much can be conveyed through
mere language, gesture and positioning, particularly when partnered
by Miriam Buether's inspired two-storey set.
just two actors, Toby Jones and Jason Watkins, shouldering the entire
production, the opportunities for repetition or caricature are plenty,
but are deftly avoided by both actors.
whetted the appetite Watkins and Jones then embark on The Dumb Waiter,
which charts the mounting desperation of two hitmen awaiting a 'job'
in a disused Birmingham basement.
taut posture and carefully controlled poise belies the inner frenzy
of his character, while Toby Jones' cherubic features become increasingly
more agitated and discordant during the mysterious movements of
the eponymous machine, whose crashing descent creates a mounting
and ominous sense of doom.
hilarious, engaging and above all eminently watchable, I can only
urge theatregoers both local and further afield to catch this masterful
production before it moves to pastures new.