A Celebration of Harold Pinter

A one man show, one night only in San Francisco. I dragged my reluctant body out into the cold January night to the Herbst Theater to snuggle with hundreds of other Pinter fans eager to have his words wash over us. Billed as “A Theatrical Portrait of the Late Playwright, Performed by Julian Sands, Directed by John Malkovich” I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for. Sands takes the stage, and begins with a poem, repeated. He’ll repeat it 3 more times before the evening is over:

I know the place
It is true.
Everything we do
Corrects the space
Between death and me
And you.

What unfolds over the next hour is a highly entertaining reading of Pinter’s lesser know work– his poetry. The celebration of Pinter turns unexpectedly to be about his poems, not his plays. And it works to perfection. Short, snappy, pointed poems with full use of PAUSE or SILENCE. Sands was coached by Pinter in how to read his poetry because of one fateful day where Pinter’s voice wasn’t up to the task of the acoustics of St. Stephens Cathedral where a reading was to take place. Sands gets a lot of personal time with Pinter, which he conveys in various anecdotes, along with snippets from Pinter’s wife’s memoir “Must You Go?” and letters and tons of poems.
Pinter received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, and gave an amazing speech via tape, being too ill to travel to Stockholm. It’s worth a viewing— he hammers US’s foreign policy beginning around minute 11.