Only those amateur groups possessed of supreme confidence and the talent with which to back it are liable to tackle a Harold Pinter play.
I have known this for a long time – but it is only now, when Pinter is no more, that I learn that he once asked how anyone could write a funny play, because his view was that drama is about conflict, degrees of perturbation and disarray.
This was the man whose plays are not remotely in danger of being described as funny. They come gift-wrapped in angst, full of worrying examinations of disturbed psyches and internal fears; assertively scripted to ensure that we realise we are not there to enjoy ourselves.
Pinter? Oh, yes – he’s the bloke with the silences.
He did, indeed, scatter them with purposeful insistence. No wonder that Alan Bennett – who could possibly tell us how someone can write a funny play – said that the best way of praising Pinter would be a two-minute silence.
A silence, presumably, while we wonder why Alan Ayckbourn, Ray Cooney and the rest never explained to him how someone could write a play that provided a laugh or two.
Winnie the Pooh, that bear of very little brain, turns up at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, tomorrow, for a stay that will last until January 18.
This is a continuation of the theatre’s strategy of staging an annual children’s classic. Last year’s was James and the Giant Peach.
* WHAT’S ON
The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, From the Top Theatre Company, Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield (to Jan 10).
Spoonface Steinberg, Stage 2, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).
Sleeping Beauty, Oldbury Repertory Players, Barlow Theatre, Langley (to Jan 17).
Winnie the Pooh, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Jan 8-18).
Gym and Tonic, Grange Players, Grange Playhouse, Walsall (Jan 9-17).
Shadow of a Gunman, Stage 2, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (Jan 14-17).