Friday, January 18, 2008

You can't go home again

A couple of months ago, I expressed a wish to read some Harold Pinter. Pinter, the 2006 Nobel Prize winner for literature, but better known to me as the very evil Sir Thomas Bertram of Patricia Rozema's film of Mansfield Park, is an actor, playwright, screenwriter, political activist, and Companion of Honor. His play The Homecoming recently had a revival in NYC, starring Raul Esparza, who I've never seen but who was supposed to win the Tony for Company and then lost to the adorable David Hyde Pierce in Curtains.

But back to Pinter. I read two plays and a short story, and I see why he said to Kenneth Branagh when rewriting the screenplay for Sleuth, "I don't do plot." I don't even know what to tell you about Pinter, except that it is bleak, powerful, and still ultra-contemporary; it has touches of Ibsen and Beckett and that angry British postwar sensibility. Everyday-seeming settings and people, portrayed with a lot of gallows humor. I'd love to see something of his onstage; it might make more 'sense' that way, though again, this is not the kind of play that has a resolution.

On the other hand, the short story I read, "Mac," was a sort of anecdotal portrait of a self-absorbed Shakespearean actor, and it reminded me of Maugham and Thurber -- dark but with real laugh-out-loud moments. I highly recommend it, especially for Shakespeare buffs.

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