The Room

Just Talk Theatre Company’s latest production is Harold Pinter’s The Room, playing at Joshua Brooks from 28 – 30 September.

The Room is a rarely performed Pinter play. Rose lives in a single room with her husband and is in turn visited by her old landlord, a young couple who think her room is available, and a blind man.  It is unclear what is really happening or why it is happening, but we are forced to question who she is and what her past holds.  Just Talk have interpreted this in the context of Alzheimer’s.

The venue helps and hinders this production.  In creating the claustrophobic and simple interior of the Room, and Roses’s mind, there are few places that could match Joshua Brooks’ intimate brick lined cellar.  But at times noise spills from above to fill the classic Pinter pauses.  Still, the production uses the available space better than anything else I’ve seen here.

In terms of the production, this is a wonderful performance that draws you into its charged emotional journey to create a suitably disturbing play.  Just Talk have assembled a talented cast that brings out the full menace of this play.  Lucy Ross-Elliott in the lead role shows effective range between the supportive wife, the suspicious tenant and her hatred for the blind man.  Each of the actors creates complex and interesting characters, with good pace.  It’s the pauses that make you consider what’s happening, and the ideas stay in my head long after the play has finished.

What the play does is to create a deep sense of unease.  It’s a difficult thing to redefine the meaning of a Pinter play, which is already unclear to start with.  As director Kezi Gardom says in her notes, there is ‘a building dread that infects the audience all the more because its source is obscured’.  So, to try to layer an Alzheimer’s theme on top is certainly a challenge; in fact it is an interesting back story that gives more insight into the way the play is constructed than what it is about.  The theme definitely comes out more fully during the cast Q&A afterwards.

Pinter’s play exists in his pauses and in the minds of the audience.  To create the full effect of the play, there must be ambiguity, and where this exists the play is at its best.  There is no question of its ambition and Just Talk Theatre deserve credit for the quality of theatre they have produced.  This is a very good play, but it’s not necessarily about Alzheimer’s.

 

 

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *