note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
Beethoven, on his death bed, tried to set things right. Goethe, they say, requested more light. Oscar Wilde, ever the wag, complained about the wallpaper, saying “one of us has got to go.” Harold Pinter weighs in on the subject with MOONLIGHT (presented by QE2 only through July 1st).
The venerable playwright must have been reading his Dylan Thomas when he wrote MOONLIGHT because the ailing pater familias here rages and rages—against the living as well as “the light.” Andy wants the respect due to a man who toiled as a civil servant his whole life. He wants obeisance from his wife and children. He wants grandchildren. He wants to get his licks in. Pinter doesn’t give him even one of his wants.
He can’t even shock his longsuffering wife. Turns out, she has surprises of her own. For a bit it seemed like Pinter’s OLD TIMES. His sons want nothing to do with him, even now. And his daughter is already gone. There’s no HOMECOMING for Andy.
Gwen Sweet (if ever a person were aptly named, it’s she) is a revelation as the patient wife. Her face is a luminous canvas, emotions slowly coming into focus like an impressionist painting. She’s the delighted cat that swallowed the canary. She’s pure joy. Jim Robinson is no slouch himself, as her curmudgeon of a mate. He proudly tells us his colleagues called him “the incumbent.” Now he’s recumbent, full of piss and vinegar to the end.
The entire cast is first rate: Jennifer Jones as the “other woman,” Emma Stanton as the dead daughter, Rob Rota and Travor Thompson as the estranged sons and Edwin Beschler as the “other” man. Director Michael O’Halloran keeps things moving at a good clip but Pinter doesn’t have the kick he used to, and the revelations are pretty predictable. You can see remnants of the old sharp Pinter in the “Chinese laundry” bit and the wife’s clever repartee but the waters are a bit murky as Pinter perhaps considers his own denouement.