Harold Pinter’s 75-minute play Moonlight is no masterpiece but was an important come-back for him in 1993 and confronts the bedbound Andy’s incomprehension and fear of death with a mordant and macabre frankness and top-hole scatological humour.
In a stylish revival by Bijan Sheibani, the somewhat static and disjointed idyll of memory and recrimination is coated in fluent staging, the darkness edged with strips of light in Bunny Christie’s design (lit by Jon Clark), an illuminated door suggesting a house of dreams.
David Bradley’s Andy mutters and barks his way ferociously and funnily through the last hours of his life, a civil servant who kept his foul language out of the office and where it properly belonged – in the home.
His wife, Bel (Deborah Findlay), sits quietly and patiently by the bed, sewing what may be his winding sheet, while his dead daughter Bridget (Lisa Diveney) wanders through a jungle of exotic plants, and his two sons re-enact past encounters, committee meetings, old pals’ acts and reunions.
These two, described by their father as “a sponging parasitical pair of ponces,” are estranged from him, and talk of him in the third person. Andy wants only to see his grandchildren. But he’s visited, fleetingly, by Maria (Carol Royle) and Ralph (Paul Shelley), with whom Andy and Bel are/were entwined.
Bel had an affair with both Maria and Ralph, while Andy, who rates Ralph’s efficiency as a football referee very low, was involved with Maria early in his marriage. The two bearded brothers – strikingly played by Daniel Mays and Liam Garrigan – answer their mother’s phone call with a pretence to be Chinese laundrymen. The family’s decimated.
It’s all very sleek and sinister and not at all moving. Bradley makes the most of his vision of death as a moonlit night with no cloud, and no horizon, indeterminate weather, and you hear the voice of Pinter loud and strong when he rises from his bed to sneak a drink: “Bugger them all. Cheers!”