One for the Road and Victoria Station are two short works by Notting Hill local Harold Pinter, and what would have been his neighbourhood theatre, the Print Room, provides a rare chance to see these disturbing, powerful mini-masterpieces together for the first time since their premiere in 1984.
Victoria Station is a Kafkaesque dialogue between a taxi driver and his controller – darkly comic with a sinister twist and only ten minutes long. One for the Road is a violent, sadistic interrogation drama (with a nod to Orwell and its date of composition) that lasts a truly harrowing half-hour.
Keith Dunphy is superb as the taxi controller in the first work – Pinter’s humour is slippery and needs intelligence to pull it off. Kevin Doyle takes centre stage in the second piece, playing the brutal questioner with a spine-chilling wish to be “scrupulous”. Jeff James’s direction retains the intensity of the writing and Alex Lowde’s design, looking like an installation from an art gallery, enhances the bizarre atmosphere.
Both pieces are at once obtuse and complex. It is remarkable that such short works can generate so much speculation and carry such emotion. The evening is one that Pinter fans simply shouldn’t miss.
Until 1 October 2011
Then transferring to the Young Vic 6 – 15 October 2011
Written 21 September 2011 for The London Magazine