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Stiflingly warm on a balmy evening, the windowless basement room is tiny and suitably oppressive. One fidgets and sprawls across the furniture, full of energy and questions; the other reads lurid newspaper headlines, recoiling from their sensationalism, and himself coiled up into the tightest clench. In the limbo of their waiting, hemmed in by uncertainty, their bleak comedy duo fills the nihilistic void. Hackney and Warren handle this brilliantly, playing Gus as a naive young pup who chatters about football matches and crockery and Ben as the older man repressing his fear and self-loathing into barked orders and sudden flashes of physical rage.

Once the oddness of their surroundings escalates — food orders appearing in the dumb waiter, matches pushed under the door — the physicality of their performances increases so it's like watching the Kray Twins channelling Laurel and Hardy. At the opening curtain these rooms look naturalistic, meaning no more than the eye can contain.

But, by the end of each play, they become sealed containers, virtual coffins. Pinter's writing in The Dumb Waiter combines "the staccato rhythms of music-hall cross-talk and the urban thriller". In the theatre, the emotional power of the play is more readily felt than understood.


Pinter "created his own theatrical grammar — he didn't merely write characters that had an emotional response to something But instead, through his characters' interactions and phrasings, Pinter seemed to conjure the very visceral emotion itself". Although the play is realistic in many ways, particularly the dialogue between Ben and Gus, there are also elements that are unexplained and seemingly absurd, particularly the messages delivered by the dumb waiter itself, and the delivery of an envelope containing twelve matchsticks.

Pinter is notable for leaving the plays open to interpretation, "wanting his audience to complete his plays, to resolve in their own ways these irresolvable matters". One interpretation is that the play is an absurdist comedy about two men waiting in a universe without meaning or purpose, like Samuel Beckett 's Waiting for Godot. Another interpretation is that the play is a political drama showing how the individual is destroyed by a higher power. It is by his bitter dramas of dehumanisation that he implies "the importance of humanity".

The religion and society, which have traditionally structured human morality, are, in Pinter's plays, the immoral agents that destroy the individual. Overall, "it makes much more sense if seen as a play about the dynamics of power and the nature of partnership. Ben and Gus are both victims of some unseen authority and a surrogate married couple quarrelling, testing, talking past each other and raking over old times".

Although the play uses "the semantic nit-picking that is a standard part of music hall comedy" [3] and is generally considered funny, this is not comedy for its own sake, but "a crucial part of the power-structure". Our failure to laugh may be an indication that we, the audience, have come to side or have been taught to side with the victim rather than the victimiser. The stories Ben picks out from his newspaper have a similar purpose.

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He describes an old man, wanting to cross the street, who crawls under a lorry and is run over by it but it is not clear if the man is killed or not. Ben seems to expect the response, "What an idiot! Hilarious, although, admittedly, this review offers no information to the play itself. Read it, it will take but an hour, you will probably enjoy it, or better yet read it with friends enacting the characters over a bottle of Cairn O' Moirh elderberry wine. Great Night. Oct 08, Kristin Polseno rated it liked it. They all loved it It's very short and you can act it out in class.

The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter

I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite books but it ended up being one of my favorite units that year. Feb 08, Paresh Desai rated it really liked it. I will never eat at restaurant and not think about this book. I have worked in retail long time ago. And I can relate. The author has great potential as a write. I hope he writes outside of his comfort. I recommend this book. Restaurant workers are hard workers. They work long hours. They get no respect. Be nice the next time you dine out. May 26, A.

The Dumb Waiter..April 16 – 28

I thought, after reading The Caretaker that I would never touch a Pinter again. That, nor any other Absurd literature. Maybe the reason that I liked this was exactly because it wasn't Absurd had a plot, etctetera , although it certainly kept some of the elements. In short, enjoyable, recommendable, and well done. Yay for Pinter. Sep 24, Samurdhi rated it liked it. Felt like reading Waiting for Godot. The Dumb Waiter is quite symbolic. From the dumb waiter to the lack of flushing in the lavatory the play creates suspense in the reader at every turn.

Feb 25, Chloe rated it liked it. This is an interesting play from the theatre of the absurd. After reading waiting for Godot, i had absolutely no intention in continuing reading in this interesting wave of literature. It wasn't as bad as i anticipated it, i liked the little twist and the end and the play on words with the tittle. May 16, Rayne rated it liked it Shelves: for-lit-class. This one was clever and funny and I really liked the ending, but it dragged on with silly things, as it is to be expected from this movement, but that was something I did not enjoy.

Mar 01, Trista rated it really liked it Shelves: plays. It's beyond me that this is the play that used to introduce college student people to Pinter. I like it better now that I'm older. I was unresponsive when I first read it at Even now I think I prefer it as a piece in Pinter's body of work rather than a stand alone script.

The Dumb Waiter

Dec 02, Ceci rated it did not like it. I have to admit that the atmosphere which Pinter creates kept me reading until the end, wanting to know more. However, the story was quite dull in my opinion and I don't know if I'll read anything else from this author. May 28, Nicolas Brannon rated it liked it.

This is the Pinter play that was chosen for the Norton Anthology. It's an early work and it's only one act, but it's very enjoyable. VERY reminiscent of Beckett, but very clever and original in it's own right.

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It's probably better seen than read. Mar 29, Sean rated it it was amazing.

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Another of my favorites from the theatre of the absurd. A terrific introduction to this Nobel-winning playwright. May 04, Lauren Weems rated it really liked it. Loved seeing the representation of the Theatre of the Absurd! There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. About Harold Pinter. Harold Pinter. He was one of the most influential playwrights of modern times. In he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. After publishing poetry and acting in school plays as a teenager in London, Pinter began his professional theatrical career in , touring throughout Irelan Harold Pinter, CH, CBE, was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, political activist, and poet.

After publishing poetry and acting in school plays as a teenager in London, Pinter began his professional theatrical career in , touring throughout Ireland. From , he acted in repertory companies throughout England for about a dozen years, using the stage name David Baron in the late s.

Beginning with his first play, The Room , Pinter's writing career spanned over 50 years and produced 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays, many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays, poetry, one novel, short fiction, essays, speeches, and letters. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party , The Caretaker , The Homecoming , and Betrayal , each of which he adapted to film.

He directed almost 50 stage, television, and film productions and acted extensively in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works. Despite frail health after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December , Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role in a critically-acclaimed stage production of Samuel Beckett's one-act monologue Krapp's Last Tape , for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre, in October Pinter's dramas often involve strong conflicts among ambivalent characters who struggle for verbal and territorial dominance and for their own versions of the past.

Stylistically, these works are marked by theatrical pauses and silences, comedic timing, irony, and menace. Thematically ambiguous, they raise complex issues of individual identity oppressed by social forces, language, and vicissitudes of memory.

In , Pinter stated that he was not inclined to write plays explicitly about political subjects; yet in the mids he began writing overtly political plays, reflecting his own heightening political interests and changes in his personal life. This "new direction" in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate about Pinter's politics. Pinter, his work, and his politics have been the subject of voluminous critical commentary.

Pinter received numerous awards.