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Photo of James Richardson by Alan Jeans.

Fringe Review: Pinter Stew

By Jared Davidson on June 16, 2019

Pinter Stew
by Harold Pinter and Third Wall
50 min / 14+ / Comedy / Drama

Pinter Stew is exactly as advertised: a series of snippets derived from the work of award-winning playwright Harold Pinter. Pinter is often associated with the phrase “comedy of menace” and his plays are characterized by analyses of the complexities and impossibilities of clear communication. Here, Third Wall has pieced together a kind of montage or “stew,” offering some selected scenes from Pinter’s bibliography.

Though it probably helps, knowing Harold Pinter’s work is not a prerequisite for Pinter Stew. I’m not particularly familiar with the author, but the play serves as an introduction, selecting particularly memorable scenes from several of his plays. John Koensgen, James Richardson and Laura Hall unleash purposeful performances that bring clarity and life to complex material. Their timing is near-perfect, and their connection with the material is apparent.

This is comedy that uses death as a punchline.

The pieces they’ve chosen to perform are dark and compelling: a president nukes London, mistaking it for Paris; an imprisoned family is tortured by a man whose motivations aren’t clear; a taxi driver refuses to listen to his dispatcher, leading him in a game of linguistic follow-the-leader⁠—this is comedy that uses death as a punchline. Though I can’t provide enough context to say whether this is Pinter done best, I can at least say it’s done well.

Rather than one director, Hall, Koensgen and Richardson have split the leadership role, each directing each other. This has led to some very powerful moments and excellent connection between the actors. There is far more synergy here than I was expecting, and the production speaks strongly of these actors, both as performers and leaders.


Pinter Stew by Harold Pinter is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 23, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.