Actor Ian Holm and Harold Pinter himself join the British and Irish imports crossing the Atlantic for a major retrospective of Pinter's plays at Lincoln Center, which officially begins on July 16. The Almedia Theatre, the Royal Court of London and the Gate Theatre of Dublin—all three much associated with the playwright—bring nine of Pinter's works to New York City for this summer's Lincoln Center Festival. Included among the works will be the U.S. premiere of Celebration, July 24 28.
Pinter will star in the festival's opener, 1984's One for the Road, now staged by the Gate Theatre. Robin LeFevre directs Pinter and Indira Varma in the July 16-21 run. Road is paired with A Kind of Alaska, directed by film and theatre director Karol Reisz and starring Penelope Wilton, Stephen Brennan and Brid Brenna. Reisz directed Pinter's Ashes to Ashes, seen Off-Broadway only a couple seasons ago.
Holm, who created the role of Lenny in the world premiere of The Homecoming, plays the father Max in LeFevre's Gate Theatre production, running July 18-22. John Kavanagh, Nick Dunning, Ian Hart and Lia Williams also star.
Pinter will direct 1957's The Room, his first play, and Celebration, his latest satire, running in tandem July 24-28. Lindsay Duncan, Steve Pacey and Keith Allen star in this 1999 mockery of London's nouveau riches. Both plays offer up food and violence.
The final Pinter pieces will be 1967's Landscape (July 25-28) from the Gate, Monologue from the Almedia (July 19-22) and the Royal Court productions of Mountain Lounge and Ashes to Ashes (July 26-29). Ashes to Ashes, staged by the Roundabout Theatre, made its U.S. premiere in early 1999 with original London star Duncan and David Strathairn (Eyes For Consuela, Hapgood). Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theatre will also host a selection of Pinter on film July 23-29. The series highlights movies written by or adapted for the screen by Pinter.
Since his The Birthday Party debuted in London in 1958, Harold Pinter has rarely gone unproduced or uncelebrated. That play established the earmarks of his slightly absurdist, often mysterious brand of drama: opaque dialogue, numerous meaningful pauses, a dark sense of humor, an air of existential uncertainty and, most famously, a pervading sense of ambiguous menace. The Birthday Party was followed in 1960 by The Caretaker—perhaps his best play—and The Homecoming (1965), Old Times (1971), No Man's Land (1975) and Betrayal (1979), as well as many other shorter works. He has continued to be productive in recent years, though most critics believe his best work was done in the first couple decades of his career and that later efforts have been slight and derivative.
Pinter has spent a substantial amount of his time writing screenplays, directing his and other's dramas and taking the occasional acting role. On panels and in interviews, he has steadfastly refuse to explain the meaning of his plays.
—By Robert Simonson
and Christine Ehren