Exeter’s Bike Shed is the perfect space for its production of Pinter’s Dumb Waiter.
With the audience seated on two sides of the gloomy set, toes protruding into the action, the intensity of the piece is heightened.
The Absurdist one-act, two-hander can be a plodding 55 minutes but here local actors made good Benjamin Warren and Tom Hackney are excellent as Ben and Gus respectively and the time evaporates.
They milk the tension as the two hitmen skulk in the shabby Birmingham basement (the dreary atmosphere intensified by Rachel Duthie’s lighting and Ben Goldstone’s sound design) awaiting the arrival of their next assignment and keep things pacey as the dumb waiter creaks into action delivering orders for increasingly fancier food and more.
The comic timing is superb with Warren playing the strong tightly coiled Ben in stark contrast to Hackney’s garrulous, boyish Gus.
Director David Lockwood keeps a firm hold on the elements: revealing all the classic Pinter attention to minute detail, building dread and releasing the tension with amusing or absurd asides at just the right moment.
My only disappointment? That I still don’t get the ending – who knew what? Why? Really? Where did the gun go? And why did Ben stop somewhere en route last night?