The Playgoer: Lahr on Pinter

Custom Search

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lahr on Pinter

I leaned against a wall rereading “The Homecoming,” which was what I’d come to discuss with Pinter... The paperback copy of the play that I held in my hands had been purchased during the Broadway début, at the Music Box, under the sensational direction of Peter Hall, in 1967. I’d seen the show on a Tuesday, bought the play at intermission, and returned to the Wednesday matinée to notate the blocking.

“The Homecoming” changed my life. Before the play, I thought words were just vessels of meaning; after it, I saw them as weapons of defense. Before, I thought theatre was about the spoken; after, I understood the eloquence of the unspoken. The position of a chair, the length of a pause, the choice of a gesture, I realized, could convey volumes. In 1967, I didn’t know quite what I’d seen; I knew only that the play’s spectacular combination of mystery and rigor had taught me something new about life, about language, about the nature of dramatic storytelling. Pinter had taken the narration out of theatre: “The Homecoming” offered no explanations, no theory, no truths, no through line, no certainties of any kind.

From John Lahr's mega New Yorker Pinter profile, Mostly an analysis (and, of course, plugging) of The Homecoming, as a play. (Not a review of the current production.) Strike that--he does critique the current production after all! At the end.

Print it out for some nice holiday downtime reading.


Aaron Riccio said...

It's really an excellent article. It gives a lot of insight into Pinter, and makes Lahr the sort of passionate defender of a playwright that I can only hope I grow up to be.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I have enormous respect for John Lahr. Very insightful and almost made me forget I was reading the column for his review on the current production until he finally provided his point of view.