The Dumb Waiter

Often described as one of his finest early works, Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter is back in town. Peter Gray reports.

Harold Pinter’s hypnotic comedy masterpiece The Dumb Waiter is back at the Hampstead Theatre as part of the venue’s 60th anniversary programme. It is fitting, too, as the play first debuted at the theatre in the venue’s maiden year of1960.

‘Hitmen, Ben and Gus have a job to do. But as they await instructions in a derelict building, they start to receive strange messages via a dumb waiter…’ So runs the synopsis for the production, which has often been described as the best of Pinter’s early plays.

As is typical of Pinter, the set up merely provides the backdrop for a surreal mix of the trivial, the humorous, the absurd and the farcical as the two protagonists await news of their job.

Increasingly agitated by a lack of information and by the persistent and mysterious interruptions of a serving hatch and food lift (the dumb waiter of the title), the two bicker, argue and josh in typical Pinteresque fashion. 

This new run of the acclaimed play is directed by Alice Hamilton whose previous credits include the Olivier-nominated Every Day I Make Greatness Happen and Paradise (both Hampstead Downstairs), The Weatherman (Park Theatre) and While We’re Here (Bush).

The production stars Alec Newman (Uncle Vanya) with Shane Zaza (Happy Valley) making his Hampstead Theatre debut in the production.

A screenwriter, director and actor, Harold Pinter was the Nobel Prize winning author of 29 plays over a 50 year career. With a body of work including The Birthday Party, The Homecoming and Betrayal, Pinter is one of the most influential modern British dramatists who created a style that deftly fused comedy, drama, the surreal and the existential into one.

Performances of The Dumb Waiter at Hampstead Theatre have been suspended due to the Coronavirus Crisis. More information about the production can be found here.

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-London's Best Events-
What: new theatre
When: suspended
Where: The Hampstead Theatre
Website: The Dumb Waiter