Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. It coincides nicely with a BBC radio programme of his more recent plays, including the harrowing Mountain Language.
Pinter presents a wonderful challenge to actors and directors alike. How can we make this play fresh and surprising? The biggest mistake is to think that because the text is so spare that it is somehow more malleable than other plays. What’s great about directing or acting in a Pinter scene is that when you’re doing it wrong, you can tell. It becomes boring, confusing, or too obvious very quickly. It makes you pay attention to details.
It’s interesting to see how Pinter dramatizes meanace and state oppression in an overt yet disguised way, versus Caryl Churchill’s more oblique approach in her (somewhat) recent play Far Away.