USER (10Aug06): This was a very good amateur production of this classic Pinter play. The three actors performed well in this difficult play to get right, pausing appropriately achieving the effect Pinter wanted. The set was good, not cluttered enough for what should be a collection of random objects collected by a disjointed mind. Michael Bate as Mick started off ominously peering out into the audience, but sadly that was him at his most menacing, although his exchanges with Richard Self were well acted. He did flit well between psychotic and nice guy. Richard Self as Davies held centre stage throughout the performance, sometimes physically dominating the action too much. I felt that he was playing for the comedy too much, which distracted the action of the play. This is not a comedy by any stretch of the imagination, true it does have humourous lines in it, such as Aston's "I don't think we're hitting it off", but it is not said as a joke, Aston does not joke, his character is full of pathos, so why the audience may laugh at what he says it is not intended as a 'joke' in the conventional terms of the word. Davies is a manipulator, and I didn't see much manipulation, just a tramp playing to the crowd.
Richard Banks as Aston was a lumbering but gentle, quiet, oaf. His portrayal gave the character a calmness yet disjointed delivery. The highlight of the action and of the acting was Aston's monologue at the end of Act Two. This speech is about ten minutes when Aston reveals why he is like he is, it turns out he had electric shock therapy in his youth, leaving him a quiet and introspective character. Banks's delivery was superb it took the audience emotionally with him, through his reminiscences and horrors of the therapy. A lump came to my throat, and I was not alone. This was a masterpiece in itself.
The acting as a whole was of a high standard as was the entire action. There were flaws, none of the performances were perfect, Bate too modern, Self too over the top and Banks too quiet. The set looked like a set not a room, to their credit this is not an easy play for actors and they did do a good job. It is not an enjoyable play, but it was well produced.