Friday, 7 November 2014

The Dumb Waiter @ The King's Arms, Salford, 06.11.14

When a play by an established writer is performed in the fringe there is one key question that must be answered: does fringe bring anything to the work that mainstream theatre could not? In the case of The Dumb Waiter, Harold Pinter's play produced here by Ransack Theatre, the answer is a resounding yes.

Set in the seldom used cellar of the King's Arms the damp, cramped and confined space is authentic to the point of discomfort. Two hitmen Ben (Alastair Michael) and Gus (James Warburton) wait impatiently in this uncomfortable room, knowing they could receive the call to kill at any minute, and we the audience are right there with them. Every drip, rustle and scrape was in your ears, the mood of the room and the mood of the play creating an uneasy harmony.

Pinter's writing is rather like a pen and ink drawing: clean, hard and crisp, with plenty of white space for the imagination to fill in. Both Michael and Warburton, with the input of director Piers Black-Hawkins, judged the pacing of the text well, leaving silences and adding expression to create tension and humour respectively. It was the sort of performance that has you staring intently at an actor's face, looking for the slightest eyebrow movement or curling of a lip that might indicate what is going to happen next.

To fully answer my earlier question, the fantastic location of this production brought the audience right into the room, something that could never be achieved with this much conviction on a bigger stage. Added to this was a sense of thoroughness and attention to detail - both in performance and production values - that made for a very enjoyable evening.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: Shay Rowan

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