Royal National Theatre (Lyttelton), London SE1
Opened 6 December, 2001

**** Pinter play expertly directed (unsurprisingly) by its author

Having played the role of Hirst a few years ago in the West End, Pinter takes the helm for this National Theatre production.

For those of us who saw it, it is difficult to shake the memory of Pinter and Paul Eddington in the main roles of this play about a hanger-on invited back to the unorthodox household of a successful author. As host Hirst, Corin Redgrave does not quite match the author in that most Pinterian quality, undefined menace: one never quite feels that he might punch any of the three other characters at various moments. But this is replaced by a generally simmering well of anger, often directed inwards, as he puts away prodigious amounts of whisky over a night and morning.

John Wood's Spooner, himself a failed writer, is more than usually unashamed in his toadying to Hirst, openly manoeuvring for a favoured position in his entourage or to utilise Hirst's reputation for his own glory. As Hirst's minions, Danny Dyer recalls Joe Orton's Mr Sloane in his pretty-boy, swaggering manipulation, and Andy de la Tour makes up what he lacks in physical threat with a corrosive cynicism.

This is not a revelatory production, but one which possesses an unfussy authority after all, who should know better how to stage a Pinter play?

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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