Sunday 14 October 1984

The Dumb Waiter And The Dock Brief


Not The National Theatre presented two plays at Warminster Arts Centre, yesterday evening (Saturday 13th October 1984). Danny Howell went along to see the performances and he has penned the following review:

Warminster was particularly blessed last night with a visit by the Not The National Theatre, a touring company who have recently formed as an off-shoot of the National Theatre, and they performed two plays with workshop treatment: Harold Pinter’s ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and John Mortimer’s ‘The Dock Brief’.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, not only because they are both excellent plays but also because of the performances by the two players, Timothy Davies and Roger Gartland. Their previous experience with the National Theatre certainly showed.

This was the first time I had come into contact with ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and I found myself enchanted and intrigued as the storyline progressed. For the first five or ten minutes there was no dialogue and as the play commenced the rather basic workshop set gave no clues either and it was quite a while before I found out what the two characters were about. It was also quite a while before we were introduced rather suddenly and noisily to the dumb waiter.

The Dock Brief’ was much less heavy but just as entertaining. The two pieces are similar in that they were both written in the 1950s and both consist of the banter between two men in different but set-situations. That’s precisely why Roger and Timothy chose to present the two plays together and as an idea it certainly works.

Afterwards, at Roger and Timothy’s invitation, some of us stayed behind to talk to them about their presentation and to voice our own humble opinions. Much of this informal chat centred upon Pinter’s work which seems to pose several questions and leaves most of them unanswered.

Roger told us of a lady who once wrote to Pinter asking him who he was, who his characters were and where were they going, etc., so that she might be able to understand his play; only to receive a letter back from Pinter asking who she was and where she was going, etc., so that he might understand her letter!

When asked of their plans for the future Timothy and Roger said that they were looking for similar plays to present and had thought of trying some of the new American works; and while these posed some risks they would be eligible for cash aid.

They then stirred all our imaginations by telling us that following ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and ‘The Dock Brief’, they were seriously contemplating about performing Pinter’s ‘The Caretaker’.

Let’s hope that they can get that plan off the ground and ask that they return to Warminster soon with it. That’ll be a treat I can hardly wait for.