The 1960 play, one of Pinter’s earliest, is set in an airless basement in Birmingham, where two hit men await instructions for their next killing. The men – one strong and silent and the other incessantly talkative - realise they’re not alone when the dumb waiter (the mini-elevator used to transport meals and dirty dishes between floors) starts moving.
Overnight critics delighted in the menace and suspense built up by the play and the strong performances of the actors – particularly Evans – who, they said, bought out plenty of comedy in Burton’s slick production. However some felt that despite the production’s positives, at just over an hour it did not constitute value for money, and several critics said it should have been paired with another piece, or some of Pinter’s sketches to give a full evening’s entertainment.
- by Caroline Ansdell