Harold Pinter had a long and fruitful experience of Dublin and he loved the city, so it was with great pleasure that I boarded the Dublin train on Saturday bound for the New Theatre in Temple Bar for Fast Intent Theatre’s production of two of Mr Pinter’s short plays. My main reason for going was to watch my daughter, the rising star of stage and screen in the Fair City, Paddy Jo Malpas. She was the leading lady in both plays. In fact the only lady in both plays. Pinter was always frugal with female roles but he was of his time in some respects.
The New Theatre which holds about 80 people is situated at the back of a bookshop in Essex Street in Temple Bar, it is in its 15th year of productions and this duo of plays formed part of the fringe festival. The main Dublin Theatre Festival’s last night was on Saturday so a lot was happening about the town.
The two plays were typical Pinter, full of black humour and menace. Family Voices originally written for radio, the characters were back lit and anonymous and showed the menace and grasp for power in a matriarchal family. It was clearly and well delivered by James Mahon who played the weak son and Paddy Jo who easily got to grips with the grasping, deceitful, menacing mother. One for the Road had so much of today about it that you would think it had been written last week and not 50 years ago. Full of political menace and Pinter’s exercise in black humour, which is a lot more about menace than laughs. Daniel Costello led this piece and showed all the facial expressions and locution learnt from his many years on the boards. Paddy Jo gave a great performance of sustained anguish by a raped and battered woman, so much so I thought she must have experienced a bad pint of Guinness before the show. The two were ably helped in the performance by James Mahon and a young kid called David Byrne, who inevitably will have many roles and years left in him. The women in the seats behind us said Paddy was stupendous and who am I to argue. It was a very successful last night performance for the Company which had been ably directed by Sarah Finlay. A lady I know well over the many glasses of Sake I have drank in her company.
We gathered in the foyer after and people were still shaking from their experience. It was obvious that the cast had put on a powerful interpretation of Pinter’s darkness and they were all welcomed by the assembled as they gathered for their personal acclaims. We moved on to a restaurant in South Frederick Street called Bite which had been collecting quiet a name for itself since it opened a few months ago. I considered it to be a noisy over-hyped, expensive fish and chip shop. If they want to improve their station, they should cut out the incessant beat from the sound system, which made everybody talk louder. The place was manic and not conducive to relaxation. The management must obviously have different, more bizarre motives. They have probably read too much Pinter.
Home to Paddy Jo’s flat and a couple of glasses of Ouzo reminiscent of our Corfu break and off to bed to be in time for the early train to Boyle. Waiting on the platform at Connolly Station next morning gave me time to reflect on how extremely proud I am of my fourth eldest daughter who is relentlessly carving out a niche for herself in that so demanding of professions. Remember Paddy if you don’t drink Guinness you will never have a bad pint.
For all you who did not catch the show you missed a great performance.