Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter": Theater Review 

Wednesday, Mar 9 2011

Neither The Dumbwaiter nor The Lover can be numbered among Harold Pinter's major works. So it's understandable that Off Broadway West has packaged these one-act plays together under a new name: Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter. The title and pairing are apt, but not perfect. As directed by Cecelia Palmtag, The Lover (a tale of infidelity) often seems more violent than The Dumbwaiter (a tale of two gangsters, directed by Durand Garcia). Like most Pinter plays, they can be played equally well for comic or dramatic effect. The results here are uneven, with Garcia and Palmtag going their own ways on tone, timing, and intensity. The "Death" portion of the evening has its charms, but suffers in part because the central conceit — two men in a room being given nonsensical instructions from an unknown source about a job they're supposed to do — has become something of an avant-garde trope since Pinter wrote it in 1959. The Lover, from 1962, hasn't as successfully infiltrated the culture and so, paradoxically, has aged better. It's hardly a new take on adultery, but it definitely surprises. If you're up for a lot of intensity and the occasional shrug, you'll enjoy rooting through Pinter's work.

About The Author

Benjamin Wachs

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"