Review: Moonlight

By John Nathan, April 14, 2011
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Donmar Warehouse, London WC2

Harold Pinter was dealing with the death of his mother when he was writing about the death of a father. His 80-minute 1993 play, revived here in Bijan Sheibani's simply staged and unsettling production, is populated by a dying man whose wife calmly crochets at his bedside. Also around is the ghost of a bare legged girl and her bantering brothers.

By the time these disjointed characters cohere into a family, we know that the clownishly dishevelled brothers (Daniel Mays and Liam Garrigan) are in fact the sons of the dying man who refuse to visit their father's deathbed. And we know also that their parents' marriage was spiced by affairs and spiked by cruelty.

David Bradley and Deborah Findlay are mesmerising as the couple whose remembrances serve as ruthless accusations. The cool, black-eyed Findlay is especially fine as a woman who has bettered her husband in mastering the art of spite.

As a reckoning of a life that has caused more pain than pleasure, Moonlight is quietly devastating. Though Pinter leaves us as detached from this family as they are from each other, which is probably as it should be.

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    Last updated: 11:03am, April 14 2011