pinter plays: playing dumb
The early plays of Harold Pinter in the 1950s where his talent emerged, starting with the Room Plays- four plays set in the claustrophobia of a single room.
The Birthday Party
The Dumb Waiter
a slight ache as if I hadn't slept
I have been engaged on the dimensionality
and continuity of space... and time... for years
I think you'd amuse me if you weren't so hideous
why shouldn't you die happy
firm, my command established, my life was accounted for
why did I invite you into this room
A Slight Ache was is a radio play and was broadcast by the BBC in 1959. The life of a couple is disrupted as the husband becomes obsessed by a matchseller outside their house. The matchseller does not speak so does he exists or is he in the imagination of the husband?
The play has been staged but becomes weaker with the physical presence of the matchseller. It is less likely the visible matchseller is in the imagination. In the National Theatre production the matchseller was even made up to look like death or the vision of ***
The husband has an ache in his eyes, and the matchseller has a glass eye- a sign that the husband may turn into the matchseller. The couple communicate badly
Pinter says. "I was totally broke and really dispirited because my first professional production of The Birthday Party had gone on in 1958 and was a total disaster. It came off in a week at the Lyric Hammersmith. I had absolutely no money and I didn't know what the hell was going to happen. My first wife and I had a newborn baby. We were living in absolute poverty. And suddenly the Third Programme [BBC Radio Three] in the guise of Donald McWhinnie invited me to come and see him and said, 'Look, why don't you write a play for us?' I think he said, 'I'll give you £30,' which was a fortune as far as I was concerned. I said, 'Oh fine, I'd love to.' I went away and I wrote A Slight Ache".
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