(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/4.)
It was the RSC that premiered Harold Pinter's play in 1965, so it seems fitting that the company should revive it as part of its 50th birthday celebrations. My only faint qualm about David Farr's finely calibrated production is that it could use a little more surface spontaneity rather than handling the play as if it were a revered classic.
Farr, however, gets most things dead right. He clearly understands that Pinter's all-male north London household is filled with fantasists. Nicholas Woodeson's bullying patriarch, Max, veers terrifyingly between bilious rage and familial sentimentality. But Woodeson makes it clear that Max inhabits a non-existent world in which he imagines he once hobnobbed with racetrack aristocrats or entered into deals with continental butchers. Jonathan Slinger also brilliantly shows his pimping son, Lenny, to be a man who believes himself to be a sexually violent cock of the walk, but who crumbles the moment he encounters a real woman.