Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Room and The Dumb Waiter - Harold Pinter

The room, originally written and played in 1957 is the first work of Harold Pinter. The familiar absurd, ambiguous yet disturbing plots and scenes did originate from his earliest work itself. Having read a few of his plays already, I guess this was easier to get into. However, the same disturbing conversations( and monologues), the end page twists and the contradicting narratives makes it very interesting to read. While not getting into the summary, one can get the glimpses of the 'suffocating life' that Rose and Bert living in the small room. Her constant reassurance of her life with cosiness and the warmth of the room, is enough to make it obvious that the reality is the opposite. Never leaving her room, she take solace in her state of mind with the status of others. Captive and restrained her movement within the room by her husband, while he takes his evening drive, Bert is trying to protect her from something. The arrival of the mysterious man living in the basement, creates curiosity in her when he sends across his intention to meet her, through the land owner. The Blind Negro Riley, comes up to the room, while Bert was away, asking her to "come home to her father". A possible escape from her detained life to the open world, which she possibly had lived before her living with Bert. In the end, Bert returns after his evening drive and murders the Blind Negro, possibly to protect Rose from her disturbing past ( which few theories associate Rose to be a prostitute and the Blind Negro her pimp).

The dumb waiter, to me is more profound in its arrangement. Two supposedly hit-men are waiting in a room in the basement for their job assignment. The hierarchy of the two member team is clear with Ben acting as the senior member and Gus the junior. The wait is perennial, and while there Gus is questioning Ben on their job, even their role in the assignment, when Ben is immersed in the newspaper, often reading few snippets ot Gus. As the tension mounts, between them , there is a mysterious 'dumb waiter' the floor above, who sends across food orders to the duo down below. Surprised over the choice, two men, sends across the few food items that left with them, which has no co-relation to what was asked. As the tension increases with the wait, the duo gets to physical assault. Through the waiters 'talking tube' comes the signal , while Gus is in the bathroom, about the arrival of the victim. In typical Pinter style, it turns out that, as Gus enters into the room, he is the one who are to be eliminated by Ben. It is sort of evident that the instigators of violence are the victims of the game, at the end. I've read elsewhere that the caste was two Irish actors as the hit-men, giving it a political angle.

Small book, with two of his early plays, is the typical Pinter affair, which I like. Absurd, often comical conversations, the gallant twist to the end and the after effect that linger over a long time. Fabulous.
The Room and The Dumb Waiter ( 1957/1959)

Harold Pinter

Methuen Co Ltd

71 Pages
Wiki - Dumb Waiter, Wiki - The Room , Guardian, The Crimson

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