In A Slight Ache, first seen at the Arts Theatre, Flora and Edward are chatting at the breakfast table when Edward’s eyes start to ache, a condition worsened by a mysterious matchseller who they proceed to interrogate. In A Kind of Alaska - another one-act three-hander, premiered at the National’s Cottesloe – a woman wakes up after 30 years in a coma; she’s now middle-aged but still thinks she’s 16. Precisely, presented as part of a series of Pinter “Sketches” at the National, asks the question: in an anti-nuclear weapons show, how many dead are acceptable.
The tribute to Pinter (pictured) staged by the Gate, in Notting Hill, west London, is not to be confused with those mounted by the Gate in Dublin. The latter marked the playwright’s 75th birthday in October with productions of Old Times and Betrayal and a series of readings, which followed two earlier festivals of his work (in 1994 and 1997). To mark the Nobel Prize win, earlier this month the Dublin-based Gate also co-produced a West End rehearsed reading of Pinter’s 2000 play Celebration, with a stellar cast including Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, Stephen Rea, Joanna Lumley and Penelope Wilton (See News, 18 Nov 2005).
In London, the Gate’s new spring 2006 season will also comprise a new production of August Strindberg’s The Great Highway and, from South Africa, Hear and Now. Similar to Ibsen’s A Dream Play, revived in a version by Caryl Churchill at the National this year, The Great Highway is a psycho-spiritual pilgrimage drama which, rather than dreams, explores the landscapes of memory. Strindberg’s final play, it premiered in 1909. At the Gate, The Great Highway is newly translated by Gregory Motton (The World’s Biggest Diamond), directed by Wally Sutcliffe and designed by Jon Bausor.
Hear and Now - written by Lara Foot Newton (who also directs) and Lionel Newton (who also stars), whose previous credits include Tshepang - is billed as a “love story about people who aren’t so young anymore”. The Duckrabbit production, presented by the Gate and Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre, runs from 19 May to 10 June 2006 (previews from 16 May).
- by Terri Paddock