There are not many Broadway lyrics that mention playwrights. There is only one lyric that I am aware of that mentions the British playwright Harold Pinter. Can you name the song , the show, the composer?
Correct...the composer is Stephen Sondheim. The play Company. The song - "The Ladies Who Lunch".
Thanks to the his new book "Stephen Sondheim -Finishing the Hat" (the second time I've used his book in a review), one can see his handwritten lyric:
"Here's to the girls who stay smart,
Aren't they a gas,
Rushing to their classes in optical art,
Praying it'll pass,
Another long exhausting day,
Another thousand dollars,
A matinee, perhaps a play,
Perhaps a piece of Mahler's -
I'll drink to that."
Sondheim changed "perhaps a play" to "a PINTER play". It is a very memorable line. It has stuck with me since the first time my wife Lisa and I saw Company on our honeymoon in Florida in 1971. "A Pinter play". What could that mean?
Well, the answer can be found at Center Stage where Pinter's The Homecoming is finishing it's run this Sunday, Feb. 20. Lewis did not know when she scheduled the play that it would be her last play as Artistic Director. She has never directed a Pinter play. In a nice article about Lewis by Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun (January 30, 2011), she states she probably wouldn't have chosen a Pinter play to end her tenure at Center Stage. She also admits she'll never do another one. But so be it.
This is NOT for everyone. For the uninitiated, Pinter is known for his....pauses... There are a lot of them. One of Lewis favorite actors (and mine), Laurence O'Dwyer, plays the role of Sam, a chauffeur. He mentions in Smith's article that Lewis talked about the "famous Pinter pause" and told the cast that "they are ...conversation. The unsaid things can really frighten you. That silence is hideous."
This is one tough play to review. I saw a few patrons leave after Act I but my advice is "DO NOT LEAVE".
Why? Because in Act II you may see action you may have never seen before in a theater. Whether you like it or not....you have never seen anything like it.
The cast is outstanding. FeliciTy Jones is marvelous in a very difficult role. She has appeared in the Center Stage productions 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Lady Windermere's Fan. She plays the role of "Ruth" married to Teddy (Steven Epp), the eldest son of Max (the incredible Jarlath Conroy), who comes "home" (hence the title) to England after spending time six years in the U.S. as a Philosophy professor. No one knows of his marriage to Ruth. They sneak into the homestead (an ugly, unkept place done that way with aplomb by set director Richard Hernandez) in the middle of the night unexpectedly.
Living in the all-male home are Max's two other sons, Lenny (a quiet and reserved Trent Dawson) and the youngest son Joey (Sebastian Naskaris) who seems intellectually limited but yet trains as a boxer. What a motley crew!
Once again, Center Stage should be complimented for their excellent program. Production Dramaturg Whitney Eggers has three fascinating and educational articles about Pinter which will assist theater-goers to understand the "Pinter Pause". She reveals the actual event which led Pinter to write the play.