Calling all literary connoisseurs!
The Other Room Theatre at Porters, Cardiff, presents a playhouse double bill, featuring two of the twentieth century’s greatest literary minds. Play, by Samuel Beckett and Silence, by Harold Pinter, are performed back to back at the cosy back room of one of Cardiff’s best social venues.
Not being overly familiar with the works of these two Nobel prize winners, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, other than I had no doubt that they would slightly on the odd side and, if nothing else, thought provoking. Whilst both very different in terms of style and construction, there was a surprising symmetry between them which certainly justified their pairing.
Both have three performers: Play with W1/wife (Peta Cornish), W2/mistress (Victoria John) and M (Matthew Bulgo); and Silence shifting from two women and one man to one woman (Peta Cornish) and two men (Matthew Bulgo and Neal McWilliams). Both witness their characters internalising past love entanglements, each suffering their own personal purgatory. Both sit outside the usual notions of time and space. The more traditionally staged Silence witnessed a shifting consciousnesses between the interconnected, yet time separated protagonists, whereas Play featured three disembodied heads atop three static urns, each trapped in an eternally repeating monologue recounting their version of the play’s central “affair”, but controlled entirely by the whim of the manually operated spotlight.
Of the two, I preferred Play. The rapid fire and monotonous narration (as prescribed militantly by Beckett himself), punctuated only by M’s hiccuping and use of “pardon”, was almost fugal in style, but whilst challenging for both audience and actors, the darkness and weirdness was surprisingly humorous and witty. Silence, on the other hand, was far more reflective, and had a sad weariness about it.
Whether you are a fan of Becket and/or Pinter or not, these performances, engineered by two fantastic production teams, will certainly not disappoint.
Play /Silence is showing until February 5th.