ATLANTIC THEATER COMPANY’S
THE COLLECTION & A KIND OF ALASKA:
TWO PLAYS BY HAROLD PINTER
NEW YORK TIMES BEN BRANTLEY FEATURE
“What a joy to find actors so at ease with the uneasiness of Harold Pinter. In Karen Kohlhaas’s first-rate productions of Pinter’s “Collection” and “A Kind of Alaska” for the Atlantic Theater Company, five performers quietly send off distress signals with a fluency that leaves you grinning at such stylishly realized discomfort.” – Ben Brantley, New York Times
Atlantic Theater Company’s critically acclaimed double bill, THE COLLECTION & A KIND OF ALASKA: TWO PLAYS BY HAROLD PINTER, is featured in today’s New York Times with theater critic Ben Brantley’s appreciation on mastering the language of the Tony Award and Nobel Prize winning playwright.
NEW YORK TIMES – Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Lingua Dramatica: Interpreting the Playwright’s Tongue
By Ben Brantley
Watching the Atlantic Theater Company’s exquisite productions of “The Collection” and “A Kind of Alaska,” two short plays by Harold Pinter, I almost forgot that the cast was speaking in a foreign language. Technically, of course, Pinter wrote in English. But as is true of most great dramatists, his syntax, locutions, rhythms and silences make up a sui generis grammar. To navigate the treacherous, autonomous nation that is Pinterland requires a thorough command of this exotic tongue.
The facility demonstrated by the ensemble of “The Collection” and “A Kind of Alaska” — directed by Karen Kohlhaas and featuring a knock-out performance from Lisa Emery as a middle-aged woman waking up from a decades-long coma — isn’t always evident in productions of Pinter, particularly in this country. It’s not just a matter of Americans having to assume British accents, though what those accents signify as to relative positions in class and power structures is especially important with Pinter.
The real problem is that the actors often seem to come from different countries. Pinter’s characters may be incapable of making completed connections with one another. But for his works to register with full impact, these characters also have to occupy the same playing field as they fumble their verbal passes.
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Directed by Atlantic founding member Karen Kohlhaas and starring Atlantic Theater Company members Larry Bryggman and Matt McGrath and guest artists Lisa Emery, Rebecca Henderson and Darren Pettie, THE COLLECTION & A KIND OF ALASKA: TWO PLAYS BY HAROLD PINTER has been extended through December 19 Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company (136 East 13th Street).
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