The Celebration and The Room

Two one-acts compare Pinter and the beginning and later stages of his career

The pair of Pinter one-acts at ACT works as a brief, two-punch retrospective at which audiences can compare the playwright's first play, The Room (1957), with one of his latest, The Celebration. The first is a sleepy, postwar-Britain chamber piece about a woman (Diane Venora) cooking for and nattering at her tremendously silent husband (Marco Barricelli) in a drab kitchen. Venora has a certain charm at first, but her British accent and flurrying stage presence aren't strong enough to carry the script, which has some early-Pinter flaws of its own (sterility, forced Beckettisms). The cast as a whole does manage its pauses, though, holding the sinister tension beautifully until some pungent line springs the audience into laughter. But the show is less conclusive -- and less crowd-pleasing -- than The Celebration, which is flat-out yuppie satire, with fashionable Londoners in a swank restaurant yelling at each other about the wine, the food, the service, their salaries, and the sexy young betty from the neighboring booth. It might remind ACT subscribers of last season's Glengarry Glen Ross, not only because of Marco Barricelli's blustery performance in a power suit and Loy Arcenas' red-toned restaurant set, but also because David Mamet owes so much to Pinter. Gregory Wallace also does excellent work as an intrusive, social-climbing waiter. "Do you mind if I interject?" he keeps saying, a phony like the others, hoping to convince somebody that his grandfather drank with Thomas Hardy and stood as James Joyce's godmother.

 
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