Pros: The chemistry between the two cast members; watching their characters slowly unravel made the performance.
Cons: The noise carrying through from the bar was quite off-putting at times, especially in a play with such tense moments.
Matthews Yard was opened after the riots of 2011; the founder wanted to do something positive and felt this was a venue Croydon was missing. After the unfortunate closure and demolishing of the Warehouse Theatre in 2013, I’m glad my home town has another creative venue to visit. However, despite all this, I did think the venue could have been more welcoming to theatregoers. It was unclear where the theatre even was, with many bewildered looking people milling around the bar. The doors opened five minutes after the show was due to start, with no explanation as to why. Once the play started there was a lot of noise carrying through from the bar, including an inappropriately timed rendition of Happy Birthday. All these factors made the overall experience slightly disappointing.
Thankfully the play itself was a treat. I’m not hugely familiar with the work of Harold Pinter, so I approached the play with few expectations. It’s a great play, with humour and just the right amount of tension. The play is about two hit-men on a job, waiting for their victim to arrive. As the play develops we start to see their complex working relationship being revealed. The ultimate betrayal which occurs is subtly hinted at throughout the play, although it still comes as a shock. The ending left me proclaiming rather loudly in the theatre as it was such a surprise.
Overall the acting was fantastic and there was brilliant chemistry between Gus (Quentin Beroud) and Ben (Adam Drew), with only the occasional line feeling slightly forced. The relationship between the two is similar to that of Laurel and Hardy or Rodney and Del Boy. The exasperated Ben and the hapless Gus created some comedic gems on stage. A particularly funny sequence was a conversation which gradually progressed to a fairly heated argument about whether you should say “light the kettle” or “put on the kettle”.
The set was very simple; just two beds, two doors and crucially the ‘dumb waiter’. This worked well as you were focusing on Pinter’s fantastic text and the developing plot and tensions between the two characters, with little visual distraction. Very little sound or music was used, apart from the loud sound effect of the dumb waiter leaping into action, which was effective. It was just a shame again that the silences were not in fact silent, owing to the bar noise.
Overall I enjoyed the production. It is a brilliant play, which had me discussing the plot all the way home, and still pondering it the next day. I’d recommend seeing this play performed by such a brilliant company, but perhaps another venue would be more suitable.