Directed by Ben Charland and Val Duncan, Theatre Encounter’s production of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter is a frustrating experience marked by questionable direction and lackluster performances.
The Dumb Waiter opens with Ben and Gus (Rachel Gilliatt and Meredith Pritchard respectively), two assassins waiting for their target in an old, abandoned basement. The two fill the time discussing current affairs, idioms, and the details of this particular job. But when a dumb waiter starts to mysteriously send down food orders, Gus begins to question just who exactly they answer to while Ben tries to stay focused on the job.
Charland and Duncan’s first misstep is the preshow which leads into the main action. Gilliatt begins by walking on stage, exploring the space and performing some movement. Pritchard follows suite and does her own routine alongside Gilliatt. All the while, the audience sits unsure of whether to go quiet or continue talking – after all, the house lights at this point are still on and new audience members are still entering the theatre and finding their seats. It becomes hard then to focus on the action on stage with the theatre door wide open and chatter outside the theatre entering in. Continue reading