Party on, Pinter! ACT throws a Birthday bash

Jan 30

Party on, Pinter! ACT throws a <i>Birthday</i> bash

There's a lot to love about American Conservatory Theater's The Birthday Party, a funny, slightly freaky Harold Pinter. The cast is uniformly strong, director Carey Perloff (essaying her last directorial effort as ACT's artistic director) deftly balances the unease and the humor. But for me, the joy, the electrical charge, the bright light of the production is ...

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To Sirs with love: Pinpointing Pinter at Berkeley Rep

Aug 12

To Sirs with love: Pinpointing Pinter at Berkeley Rep

What pure theatrical pleasure it is to spend two hours in the baffling world of playwright Harold Pinter with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart as our guides. These two fascinating craftsmen, under the direction of the equally astute Sean Mathias, are a show unto themselves in the choices they make, the characters they draw and the relationships they forge with each other and with the audience. No Man's Land may be about some sort of limbo between the vibrancy of youth and the incapacity of old age (or, more simply, between living life and just waiting for death), but in truth, it's a masterful workshop in which gifted thespians practice their craft.

Pinter's play itself is an enigma (as so many Pinter plays seem to be). What is actually going on? Well, two older gentlemen, Hirst (Stewart) and Spooner (McKellen) have met at a pub near London's Hampstead Heath and have returned to Hirst's well-appointed home for a few (dozen) nightcaps.

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Sirs Ian and Patrick in conversation

Aug 04

Sirs Ian and Patrick in conversation

It's not the worst thing in the world to have to spend an hour with two of England's finest: Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart. Though more famous from TV and film than for their extraordinary stage careers (on both sides of the Atlantic), the two journeymen actors are giving up the sci-fi/fantasy limelight to return to their first love: the stage.

They are currently on stage at Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Roda Theatre in Harold Pinter's No Man's Land co-starring Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley. (Good luck getting a ticket; they're awfully hard to come by, as you might expect.)

I interviewed McKellen and Stewart for an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read the full story here (subscription may be required).

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Who’s taking care of Pinter’s crafty Caretaker?

Mar 29

Who’s taking care of Pinter’s crafty <i>Caretaker</i>?

There are all kinds of battles going on in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker – brother vs. brother, brothers vs. the tramp, the tramp vs. the truth, loneliness vs. despair, etc. – but the really interesting battle is between menace and humor. Surprisingly, at least in the sharply etched production now at the Curran Theatre as part of the SHN season, humor wins.

Pinter can annoy me faster than just about any other playwright if his work falls into the wrong hands. Happily, this production, which originated at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse before moving on to London's West End and a world tour, feels lived in and full of life (at least as much life as Pinter will allow amid the portentous silences and lonely drifting).

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Nostalgic for The Homecoming at a different home

Mar 14

Nostalgic for <i>The Homecoming</i> at a different home

The absolute power of live theater, when it's done superbly well, is undeniable. The connection the playwright, the director, the actors and designers forge with the audience – and vice-versa – can be incredibly powerful.

That's a wonderful thing and leave a lasting impression. Sometimes, perhaps, too lasting.

Last week I saw Carey Perloff's production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming for American Conservatory Theater. It's a bizarre, tormentingly fascinating play by a master playwright at the height of his game-playing dramatic powers. And though the production is fine, all I could think about was the Aurora Theatre Company production staged by Tom Ross at the Berkeley City Club in April of 2000.

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New seasons: TheatreFIRST, Broadway by the Bay

Oct 22

TheaterFIRST, under the new artistic direction of Dylan Russell, has announced its 15th anniversary season, which will run from January to June 2009 and will include a staged reading series and a Harold Pinter revival. The season opens with a staged reading series from mid-January to mid-February. Plays and location still to be announced, but the readings will be at...

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