Monday, October 16, 2006

And Your Point Is?

Captain Cabernet wrote of Nick's disappointment in Michael Billington and Charles Spencer. He won't be any happier with them today.
Despite Nick's frequent visits to the West End (Islington has some perfectly good theatres), I've not yet formed an idea of what sort of play Nick enjoys. I think the Captain is right: it should be ruthlessly didactic, and at the same time uplifting. Gee Willikins, Momma, we'll pull through, all we need is hope1. Somehow, I can't see Nick sharing Michael Billington's praise:

But this is a performance, not an exercise in self-revelation. And what is striking is the accommodating nature of Beckett's text. One of the most famous of all Krapps, the German actor Martin Held, implied the character's earlier vitality. Pinter, however, brings out the black nihilism of a Krapp for whom the planet is simply "this old muckball". And the final irony of an unsparingly honest performance is that, even when Krapp talks of "the fire in me now", it is followed by a long, agonised silence as a death-bell distantly tolls.

Charles Spencer agrees:

Once notorious for his outbursts in real life, there is a savage fury even in the way he turns the tape recorder on and off, while those dark hooded eyes seem to burn with impotent ire. Pinter may be physically fragile, but the menacing power that has always been present in his writing is still there in the actor. What we are witnessing in this performance isn't so much rage against the dying of the light ā€“ Krapp actually admits that he is burning to be gone ā€“ but rage against a life the character has come to recognise as squandered. There's an especially poignant moment when Krapp tries to record his last tape and bitterly remarks: Nothing to say, not a squeak and one remembers Pinter's own painful struggles with writer's block.

Billington doesn't mention his poetry. And won't Telegraph readers in Tunbridge Wells and Cheltenham be disappointed that they aren't reminded of Nick's 2003 Christmas Quiz - the one where Nick asked:

Which playwright, who wept buckets for the victims of a genocidal regime when Saddam was a de facto ally of Britain and America in the 1980s, wrote in 2003?
Dear President Bush,
Iā€™m sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments.

Oh yes, I am curious now. What was your point there? That Harold Pinter was against Saddam long before you were? Before it was fashionable in government? Or that he called Bush a 'war criminal' just when you thought Bush was the great anti-Fascist who'd bring peace to all mankind? Yet the most eloquent expression of Blair's legacy is the image of him washing cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood.
1. I don't actually recommend that you follow this link, or, if you do, that you read all of it. Just imagine you were writing a novel and wanted a not very bright vicar character (perhaps to satirise Tony Blair), this is the sort of comic sermon you might compose to convey vapidity and intellectual lassitude.


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