As the applause died down and we started to rise from our seats @polyg turned to me and said: "Not all Pinter is like that."
The Pinter in question was Moonlight at the Donmar and my first of his plays. And while the richness and almost poetic language was at times breathtaking the play itself was so utterly disengaging it is a good job I don't wear a watch.
It all sounds so promising in the synopsis. A father lies dying and recalls his past while his wife tries to persuade his sons to come and visit. Indeed it is described:
A tragic comedy of family dysfunction, Moonlight is one of Harold Pinter's most human and poignant plays suffused with universal emotions: the cold dread of death; the pain of separation from loved ones; the longing for reunion; and the continuity of the family.
The problem is that the family is dysfunctional to the point of being almost wholly unlikeable. Father Andy (David Bradley) is so bitter he taunts his wife with his feelings for others. His sons lay around in a squalid flat reeling off lists of people they know and pretending to be a dry cleaners when their mother calls. And Andy's friends just brag about their children.
It is presented as a series of vignettes, some have moments 'comedy' or 'poignancy' but most don't. The scenes where Andy's daughter's ghost appears are at times painfully beautiful and the best bits.
There is nothing to fault with the acting or the production, it is simply the play. If I felt half the things the characters purport to feel I think I'd shoot myself. In fact, if it had gone on much longer than it's 70-80 minutes running time I might have had to do something to myself in order to find an excuse to escape.
I'm giving it 2 out of 5. It runs until 28 May.