Author Topic: Harold P  (Read 776 times)

pancreas

  • The islets of Langerhans are the very best islets
Harold P
« on: September 30, 2018, 09:58:59 PM »
holyzombiejesus suggested I start a thread specifically to discuss Pinter, seeing as I go on about it enough outside of one.

I've been trying to get people interested in Pinter here specifically, because I see a huge overlap in wordsmithery with Morris. The subtle subversion of humdrum expressions to give them a weird menacing character in particular. His plays (at least some of them) have been referred to as comedies of menace, and I do think that's precisely the vibe that much of Morris's work intends to evoke, especially (Blue) Jam.

Here are some choice bits:

Celebration: On responding to the restaurant owner asking how the food was, one character (Prue) says of her sister (Julie):

She wasn't impressed with her food, it's true. She said so. She said it was dry as dust. She said—what did you say darling?—she's my sister—she said she could cook better than that with one hand stuffed between her legs—she said—no honestly—she said she could make a better sauce than the one on that plate if she pissed into it. Don't think she was joking—she's my sister, I've known her all my life, all my life, since we were little innocent girls, all our lives, when we were babies, when we used to lie in the nursery and hear mummy beating the shit out of daddy. We saw blood on the sheets the next day—when nanny was in the pantry—and the parlour maid was in the laundry room, washing the blood out of the sheets. That's how me and my sister were brought up and she could make a better sauce than yours if she pissed into it.

The Homecoming

MAX. He was very fond of your mother, Mac was. Very fond. He always had a good word for her.

Mind you, she wasn’t such a bad woman. Even though it made me sick just to look at her rotten stinking face, she wasn’t such a bad bitch. I gave her the best bleeding years of my life, anyway.

LENNY. Plug it, will you, you stupid sod, I’m trying to read the paper.

MAX. Listen! I’ll chop your spine off, you talk to me like that! You understand? Talking to your lousy filthy father like that!


No Man's Land:

SPOONER. I often hand about Hampstead Heath myself, expecting
nothing. I’m too old for any kind of expectation. Don’t you agree?

HIRST. Yes.

SPOONER. A pitfall and snare, if ever there was one. But of course
I observe a good deal, on my peeps through twigs. A wit once
entitled me a betwixt twig peeper. A most clumsy construction, I
thought.

HIRST. Infelicitous.


The Caretaker:

MICK. What a strange man you are. Aren’t you? You’re
really strange. Ever since you come into this house
there’s been nothing but trouble. Honest. I can take
nothing you say at face value. Every word you speak is
open to any number of different interpretations. Most of
what you say is lies. You’re violent, you’re erratic,
you’re just completely unpredictable. You’re nothing
else but a wild animal, when you come down to it.
You’re a barbarian. And to put the old tin lid on it, you
stink from arse-hole to breakfast time


American football (a reflection on the Gulf War)

Hallelullah!
It works.
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!

Hallelullah.
Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.


Of course there was also the Nobel prize speech in which he utterly excoriates American Foreign policy, describing America as the Greatest Show on Earth, entirely bitterly, of course.

Any other fans out there? What are your favourite plays?

If I had to choose top 5, I think I'd go:

1. Celebration
2. No Man's Land
3. Homecoming
4. Moonlight
5. Caretaker

Many of these can be found on e.g. tvchaos, with stellar productions. No Man's Land has Ralph Richardson opposite John Gielgud, for example. Celebration fronted by Michael Gambon. There's a radio play of The Homecoming starring pinter himself, plus Gambon in the role of Sam.

Phil_A

  • HE WAS AN ROBOT
    • Chasing The Bumblebee
Re: Harold P
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2018, 11:42:15 PM »
The 1963 Caretaker with Alan Bates, Donald Pleasance and Robert Shaw is on youtube. Shaw's outstanding as Ashton.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e6x5j_JKWA

"I laid out all the things in order in my room, all the things I knew were mine...but I didn't die."

Re: Harold P
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 11:52:48 PM »
not an expert here, something which I regret & mean to address, but 'the dumb waiter' is a favourite.

what did you think of how he treated fowles' "TFLW" for the big screen? I remember being so annoyed with the book (fowles could do that to a reader!) that I tore out the alternate ending from one copy; I think HP went meta with it in a much more interesting way. it resonated with me- at the time I was working on a soap, & one frequently saw (especially on locations away from base overnight) these liaisons spring up that mirrored the script.

[edit- I'm seeing now that dennis potter also wrote a treatment of TFLW for screen, which went unused. intriguing]

Re: Harold P
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 01:26:09 AM »
Discovered Danny Dyer. Legend.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: Harold P
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2018, 03:25:41 AM »
Yes I just recently discovered that Pinter and Danny Dyer were good friends. Two East End boys. I would have loved to have seen them rehearsing together.

I think The Homecoming, The Caretaker and Old Times are his greatest plays. For some reason, all three of them work better as films/television plays than in the stage versions I've seen. I think it's because of the greater intimacy of the screen. I love that the way the characters speak is realistic and at the same time not, and the fact that you can't trust anything anyone says.

"What goes on in my plays is realistic, but what I’m doing is not realism."

'Old Times' is one of the most eerie things I've ever seen, in which you really don't know what's happening, and who or what is real. I've read around for interpretations, but I don't think there's anything like a definitive explaination of what happened. The theme seems to be that

"The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember."

Ben Watson said something to the effect that Pinter was a diluted Beckett, but Watson is a fool and Beckett knew that wasn't so.

Pinter on Beckett:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-I6Utwfw54

I suppose the lack of bullshit Pinter mentions is what I like most in both of them.



pancreas

  • The islets of Langerhans are the very best islets
Re: Harold P
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2018, 09:07:46 AM »
not an expert here, something which I regret & mean to address, but 'the dumb waiter' is a favourite.

SCAMPI?!?!?!

Re: Harold P
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2018, 09:38:22 AM »
I've never read H.Pinter.

Cuellar

  • Push off my wire
Re: Harold P
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2018, 11:05:02 AM »
Love it all.

Began with The Birthday Party at school.

Got slightly obsessed with No Man's Land a few years ago. "We're out of bread. I'm looking at the housekeeper. Neurotic poof. He prefers idleness. He prefers the Malay Straits, where they give you hot toddy in a four poster. He's nothing but a vagabond cock"

"You'd listen to the drivellings of a farmer's wife?"
"Since I was the farmer, yes"
"You were no farmer, sir. A weekend wanker"

Too many great passages in that. You could basically quote the entire text.

Re: Harold P
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 10:20:01 PM »
I was just about to quote that wanker line. If you look around online you can find the recent McKellen/Stewart NTLive version. Also I do remember making the Jam connection myself after I saw my first one a few years ago (Caretaker with Tim Spall), particularly in the examination of power (eg the Dr scenes in Jam).

I don't really have anything intelligent to contribute, but when I watch them I do feel on the verge on some epiphany if that makes any sort of sense - something to do with language, identity and power. Probably just projecting my own preoccupations. I agree that they're not 'realist' but the 'realism' of it is what appeals to me, compared to Beckett who I find a bit too 'fantastic' to engage with properly. Even just the repeated mentions of Sidcup in Caretaker, which was one of those peripheral places of my childhood.

They're currently running all/most of his short plays at the Pinter theatre. I've booked the Dyer/Freeman Slight Ache/ Dumb Waiter. I was thinking of Celebration/ Party Time - worth it?

pancreas

  • The islets of Langerhans are the very best islets
Re: Harold P
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 11:48:11 PM »
Celebration certainly. Well it's my favourite so I would say that. I don't know if I know Party Time ...

At the HP Theatre they do standbys. Turn up 1hr before the performance and get put in the best seat for 15 quid, I think.

Re: Harold P
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2018, 12:03:25 AM »
Thanks will give it a go - actually I've just seen they do some £15 tickets for the under 30s. Might do The Room as well.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: Harold P
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2018, 01:09:58 AM »
power.

Sometimes it seems almost every line in (especially early) Pinter plays is an attempt to assert power over another person. 

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Harold P
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2018, 01:30:10 PM »
Apparently there was a performance of Victoria Station starring Bill Bailey and Kevin Eldon in 2007. I would have liked to have seen that. Not sure if it was recorded though.

Re: Harold P
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2018, 10:16:50 AM »
The Hothouse is hugely underrated and hilarious.

'One of the patients has just had a baby.

A baby. But how?

She had an accomplice.'

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: Harold P
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2018, 09:30:06 PM »

Re: Harold P
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2018, 10:40:55 PM »
That is fantastic.

Bhazor

  • Are you rolling your own jelly babies in there?
Re: Harold P
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2018, 10:47:30 PM »
You reckon they called him pinter because he could micturate like a racehorse?

Queneau

  • That was a joke. That's all it was, it was a joke.
Re: Harold P
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2018, 11:21:28 PM »
Began with The Birthday Party at school.

Got slightly obsessed with No Man's Land a few years ago. "We're out of bread. I'm looking at the housekeeper. Neurotic poof. He prefers idleness. He prefers the Malay Straits, where they give you hot toddy in a four poster. He's nothing but a vagabond cock"

"You'd listen to the drivellings of a farmer's wife?"
"Since I was the farmer, yes"
"You were no farmer, sir. A weekend wanker"

Too many great passages in that. You could basically quote the entire text.

That Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart version a few years back was the first time I'd actually seen a production of it and it was wonderful. I naturally go onto the work of Pinter after reading a lot of Beckett's work. Two absolute giants.


Not sure if this is allowed but, as it was mentioned in a post above, does anyone have an invite code for TVChaos?