The Dwarfs is a stage adaptation of a Pinter novel by Kerry Lee Crabbe. We caught Crabbe on the phone and asked him about the play.
What's the play about? "In many ways it's a rite of passage story, set in the East End after World War Two — it's set in about 1950. It's about a group of friends who are growing up and moving on from their past relationship — largely thanks to the arrival of a girl. The play deals with intense friendships and how they are tested by boys growing into young men, moving away, experiencing first love and all the pain, jealousies and exuberance that go with it."
Is it based on Pinter's own early life? "There's a fair amount of autobiography in it, yes, as you'd expect, given that he wrote it when he was 21, and he was just beginning to be an actor. People sometimes forget that Harold is an extraordinary actor as well as a leading playwright. And in his teens and twenties he was very much a poet as well. What makes his book ‘The Dwarfs’ so fascinating is the way that it has such a theatrical feel to it."
It must have been rather daunting, turning the book into a play and knowing he'd be seeing it! "When we first gave a presentation to Harold of how we thought the book might work as a play, it was certainly a nerve-wracking occasion! However, he was, and has continued to be, enormously positive about the whole process. We workshopped the play at the National Theatre studio, and we've had four weeks' rehearsal before previewing at the Tricycle — and we open on Wednesday, April 23. The cast is a young one, and Harold has been terrific with them, very sensitive to them." And this is the first time The Dwarfs has been seen on stage? "Yes. There was a very short radio version, in 1960, utilizing a small part of the novel, but the novel itself was only published some ten years ago. There had been some thought given to turning it into a film, but we have gone down the stage route, which I feel, after the work the creative team has done on it, is a very effective way of presenting the story."
Given Pinter's prominence in the theatre world, are you expecting a West End transfer? "I think 'expecting' is putting it a little high! Transfers are always such a lottery, but of course it would be fun to bring it into the West End. The important thing is that it is seen, and I hope that the six or seven weeks that we'll be at the Tricycle will give people the chance to see and enjoy the play."