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Harold Pinter, R.I.P.

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Harold Pinter has died.

Appreciation by Michael Billington.

Eight weeks ago I directed a group of LAMDA students in a triple-bill of Party Time, Celebration and the Nobel Lecture. At the time, Harold was extremely ill. But he had promised to come and see the productions and, on the final Saturday-night performance, he and his wife, Antonia, duly arrived. They not only saw the shows. Harold got a up and made a speech afterwards thanking all the students. He then stayed on to drink and chat with them. Only later did I realise how much of a physical effort it was for Harold.

Obit in the NY Times.

In more than 30 plays — written between 1957 and 2000 and including masterworks like “The Birthday Party,” “The Caretaker,” “The Homecoming” and “Betrayal” — Mr. Pinter captured the anxiety and ambiguity of life in the second half of the 20th century with terse, hypnotic dialogue filled with gaping pauses and the prospect of imminent violence.

Along with another Nobel winner, Samuel Beckett, his friend and mentor, Mr. Pinter became one of the few modern playwrights whose names instantly evoke a sensibility. The adjective Pinteresque has become part of the cultural vocabulary as a byword for strong and unspecified menace.

I wouldn't put him up there with Beckett, but an important and influential figure whatever you thought of him. R.I.P.

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