I saw an excellent production of Harold Pinter’s 1975 play, No Man’s Land, at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge last night. While I respect Pinter’s larger than life influence on the theatre communities of both the US and the UK, he is not one of my favorite playwrights. My actor friend Kevin claims that Pinter is great to perform–his work is tight and a good actor just loves to give it a go. That makes sense to me, particularly after having seen two elderly masters bring this piece to its knees. Hats off to Paul Benedict and Max Wright. They were jaw dropping good.
From the program notes, here’s prickly Pinter giving himself some elbow room:
Someone asked me what my work was “about.” I replied with no thought at all and merely to frustrate this line of inquiry: “The weasel under the cocktail cabinet.” That was a great mistake. Over the years I have seen that remark quoted in a number of learned columns. It has now seemingly acquired a profound significance, and is seen to be a highly relevant and meaningful observation about my work. But for me the remark meant precisely nothing…What am I writing about? Not the weasel under the cocktail cabinet…I can sum up none of my plays. I can describe none of them, except to say: “That is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.”