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Topic Summary

Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: August 12, 2008, 01:16:21 PM »

From The Telegraph, 23-3-2006

"...Pinter was himself under great stress when he accepted the commission to write A Slight Ache. "I'll never forget it," he says. "I was totally broke and really dispirited because my first professional production of The Birthday Party had gone on in 1958 and was a total disaster. It came off in a week at the Lyric Hammersmith. I had absolutely no money and I didn't know what the hell was going to happen. My first wife and I had a newborn baby. We were living in absolute poverty.
"And suddenly the Third Programme in the guise of Donald McWhinnie invited me to come and see him and said, 'Look, why don't you write a play for us?' I think he said, 'I'll give you £30,' which was a fortune as far as I was concerned. I said, 'Oh fine, I'd love to.' I went away and I wrote A Slight Ache..."

The link is here
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: August 12, 2008, 01:10:35 PM »

I liked seeing the play but I also agree with the review you quote.

The matchseller did look like someone from Dante's Inferno, a death figure whereas when I read the play, and presumably on the radio, I imagine a matchseller who may exist or may be in the imagination.  Jamie Beamish played the non-speaking role well, the problem was the directorial decision.

Good to see Simon Russell Beale in a modern role- he usually sticks to Shakespeare and Chekhov.

The play is still on at the NT, and later comes back as a double bill together with Landscape.
Posted by: Michelle
« on: August 06, 2008, 11:24:26 AM »

Went to see this play at the National.  It was orginally written for radio and not sure it really worked well on stage.   Have read Lyn Gardner's review in the Guardian which made me chuckle.  Have copied this below. 

Flora and Edward are breakfasting in the garden. A wasp flies into the marmalade, a sting in what appears to be paradise. The campaign to kill it is mounted by Edward with military precision and a polite middle-class ruthlessness. But it is Flora and Edward's marriage that is dying, and the end is hastened by the stranger at the gate, a match seller who has apparently been there for months.

Harold Pinter's 1958 play was conceived for radio, and that is where it should have stayed. Iqbal Khan's revival is perfectly serviceable, and Pinter's script has flights of lyric fancy, but staging A Slight Ache destroys its nagging power, and what is mysterious becomes spelled out. The ancient Greek playwrights knew the appalling power of not showing the thing we fear most, and I reckon that Pinter does, too. On radio, the audience never knows whether the match seller really exists or if he is a figment of the couple's imaginations. On stage we can see him, and he looks like someone on his way to a party hosted by Max Mosley. The result is banal. A Slight Ache is transformed from a play about metaphysical and emotional crisis into a play about a couple of Daily Telegraph readers concerned about people loitering with intent.

Clare Higgins and Simon Russell Beale are perfectly fine, better than their material, and Jamie Beamish is quietly menacing, but the overall effect is slight, and can be batted away like a wasp.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: June 07, 2008, 12:07:07 AM »

A Slight Ache is on at the National Theatre London from 21 Jul to 13 Aug 2008.

Clare Higgins plays Flora and Simon Russell Beale plays Edward.  The director is Iqbal Khan.