Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 15 Nov
Pinter’s tale of a power struggle between three men, one destitute, one marginalised by mental health issues and one seeming to exist at the twilight edge of bourgeois respectability, assumes a new power in the current economic climate. When down-and-out Davies (Tam Dean Burn) inveigles himself into the decrepit, detritus-strewn room of Aston (Robert Hastie), a man recovering from ECT, the latter’s seedy businessman brother (Eugene O’Hare) takes an interest, sparking an omega-male psychological brawl.
In front of Max Jones’ grimly detailed bedsit set, Breen’s production points outwards at a society overloaded with aspiration and bereft of the means of achieving satisfaction on either a spiritual or material level. Some tremendous physical business from Burns’ tramp combine nicely with O’Hare’s droll, deadpan humour, while Hastie’s singular monologue about his experience of a barbaric mental institution is delivered with chilling, downbeat precision. Each character cites ambitions, be they as modest as the building of a shed or the attaining of a pair of comfy shoes, which will never be realised, all against a background of emotional and fiscal impoverishment. Yet there’s endless humour to be found among the pathos, with all three actors bringing a Hancock-like wit to the delivery of dialogue that constantly undermines the characters’ pretensions. Most of all, the aching loneliness of these unobserved lives comes across underneath the surface aggression.