Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 3 stars Harold Pinter’s 1978 study of an affair among London literary types and its aftermath is both his most grown-up work and his most self-indulgent. Dominic Hill’s production – his first as artistic director of the Citz – catches both facets, albeit without ever making you feel much in the way of empathy with the publisher, the agent, the wife or the lovers onstage. But then, as things painfully unwind across a decade that begins two years after the end of Jerry’s long-term amour with his best friend Robert’s wife Emma, and closes with Jerry’s first clumsy drunken pass, it’s hardly Hill’s fault.
On one level, as Cal MacAninch’s Robert, Neve McIntosh’s Emma and Hywel Simons’ Jerry navigate their way through the sort of awkward silences and knowing banter that only former intimates can stumble into, any trademark earnestness is ironed out by a recognition of the self-absorbed ridiculousness of it all. Yet there are moments when the delivery overloads each line with an unnecessary weight that they're perfectly capable of carrying by itself.
As giant screens criss-cross each other at the front of Colin Richmond’s slowly revolving set inbetween each scene while Dan Jones’ mordant score seeps out, the play nevertheless remains an exquisitely melancholy study of lives in reverse, and how seemingly insignificant moments rack up a set of long-term consequences. We never see Jerry affectionately throw Robert and Emma’s infant daughter up in the air, but it stays with him longer than Emma does.
The play’s time arc, from a jaded and slightly desperate 1977, to the endless possibilities of 1968, looks today like a metaphor of romance on a far grander scale. Yet, as with this grandest of affairs, it’s never quite enough.
The Herald, March 7th 2012