Harold Pinter has been my favourite playwright since my friend Paul Wingfield introduced me to him in our youth. We were about 13 and rather than doing what most 13-year-old boys do at that age – like smoking crack on a hill overlooking an industrial estate somewhere – we dabbled in modern drama. I still dabble in modern drama, but it tends to be the events that unfold in my life.
One of the first things I remember Paul doing is tap-dancing for me. He sat me down on a stage while we waited for our theatre teacher to arrive, and he did a little jig. I won’t lie, it was awkward. We then performed an extract of Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” in our Year 8 summer talent show. We were blissfully unaware that the scene we had chosen included a rape sequence in it – we just assumed that Stanley thought that Lulu was a jolly nice girl, not that he wanted to molest her.
The next experience that Paul and I shared with good old Harold was when we were about 15 and were invited back to our middle school – Trevelyan, Windsor, which is now a block of luxury flats overlooking a very attractive roundabout – to perform in yet another talent show marking some sort of event for the school (its 100th birthday, or the death of an old headmaster, or the fact that they had just made a multi-million pound deal to demolish the school and build flats there). I say that WE were invited back – Paul was. My name was left off the programme. Nice. Paul and I acted in a Pinter skit called “Trouble in the Works” and I ensured that I gave the performance of my life, consequently making the event organisers bitterly sorry that my name didn’t appear in the programme. I mean, surely it would have been worth something by now, no? My most recent experience of Pinter was when I performed “The Birthday Party” AGAIN, this time for an A-Level piece (I was 17 and this time aware of the rape). We got an A. An easy A!
This is a very long-winded way of saying I am a Pinter fan and on Thursday attended the press night of “Old Times”, at the Harold Pinter Theatre (thank you Hannah Crosby), starring Kristen Scott-Thomas (who I love and who was brilliant) and Rufus Sewell (who I’ve hated since his irritating role in “The Holiday” and everything else he’s been in, including this). I have reviewed it for the paper (shock) which you can read if you click here. I dedicate this to Paul (who is one of my best and oldest friends and who I do not hate despite me sounding bitter about him in the above few paragraphs).
– – A