Young Vic | ★★★★✩
Reviewed by John Nathan
It is not always obvious why a director would choose to stage Harold Pinter’s most regularly revived play. Mathew Dunster’s very good production follows Jaimie Lloyd’s 2015 revival in which revealed in flashes of terrifying insight the hidden anxieties of Pinter’s outwardly tough men. More recently Keith Allen was terrific as Max, the bullying patriarch to the three grown sons.
Here Chernobyl star Jared Harris is more pleading than threatening in the role while Joe Cole as the middle son exudes malice towards his dad. The reveal here however is with Lisa Diveney’s Ruth, wife of the returning Teddy (a terrific Robert Emms).
The only woman in the play, Ruth is usually quick to assert sexual power over the men who would exploit her. But Diveney also reveals the wafer-thin fragility that exists beneath Ruth’s bravura.
Moi Tran’s uninteresting design rather obviously reflects the joyless existence of this family’s life with greyed-out walls and furniture. The landing is too low for Pinter’s north London house.
But Nicholas Tennant as Max’s uptight chauffeur brother Sam is a wonderful walking heart attack of a performance. So there is more than enough going on in this production to answer the question of why with a “why not?”