A Slight Ache
Twinges of Pinter in impeccably performed play exploring suburban paranoia
This article is from 2014.
Nobody did suburban paranoia as well as Harold Pinter, and this is a fine example: on the longest day of the year, Edward and his wife Flora (comedy actors Thom Tuck and Catriona Knox, respectively) bicker. They initially seem well-matched; Edward is a curtain-twitching creep, bigoted, pompous, prone to violent outbursts. Flora is attractive, yet patronisingly mumsy, placating him with an eye roll or arm stroke, as he obsesses about what would be in today's parlance 'first world problems' – wasps 'stinging, not biting', or arguing about the names of garden flowers. When a dubious-looking match salesman (League Against Tedium's Simon Munnery) enters their home, their already tenuous world caves in.
As this is adapted from a late 1950s radio play, there are less pauses than in the rest of Pinter's oeuvre, yet the discomfiting chuckles and simmering unease remains. All three performances are impeccable, with Munnery especially chilling, silent and motionless in his balaclava, eyes bulging. From the back, he has the silent menace of a Magritte or Bacon painting.
The buzzing light between scenes augments a freakish domestic landscape. Simply yet effectively staged, A Slight Ache stings like a wasp's sting on an oppressively sticky day.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 12.45pm, £6–£8.