A “free interpretation” of Harold Pinter’s classic play The Dumb Waiter sticks to the original text but reinterprets the playwright’s famous pauses, filling those sinister silences with action.
Spanish theatre troupe Animalario, directed by Andrés Lima, turns up the volume on Pinter’s puzzling play, seating the audience on two sides of the stage while its protagonists continually shuttle up and down it. Like watching a tennis match with two balls in play, there’s a game going on, but a madman wrote the rules.
Everything’s at odds. Black binbags line the set creating a cavernous yet suffocating space; hospitalesque beds suggest hygiene yet stinky sheets belie it. The hitmen, Ben and Gus, seem as resentful of eachother as they are with the mysterious ‘others’, who send down fancy food orders via a Dumbwaiter. Ben (Alberto San Juan) is a maggot-bag of nervous ticks and caricatured posturing; Gus (Guillermo Toledo) is bipolarically calm and enraged. One minute they’re holding a Pinteresque banal conversation about football and semantics, the next, Ben is attacking Gus with a packet of crisps. The Dumbwaiter itself, far from an unobtrusive appliance, descends down the wall with a grinding roar and flashing lights, like some kind of pagan God.
A play about hierarchies, about shutting up and putting up – what happens when you do and what might happen if you don’t – The Dumb Waiter was a strange and sinister play when it was first performed in 1960, and it is no less strange and sinister today all fired up with Spanish indignant rage.
This play has been to Barcelona and gone again after a brief stay.