MOONLIGHT, Organic Touchstone Company. No playwright surpasses Harold Pinter's ability to convey the complex way that reality and fantasy, memory and make-believe can fluidly shift--or his skill at exploring the way people use words as weapons and veils. In this 85-minute one-act an elderly civil servant, Andy, lies dying while his wife, Bel, sits and embroiders, waiting for the end. As the couple trade reminiscences and recriminations, their dead daughter Bridget wafts in and out. Meanwhile their grown sons Jake and Fred, estranged and inaccessible in another apartment, dodge Bel's phone calls, and the couple's longtime friends Ralph and Maria (Maria may have had affairs with both Andy and Bel) drop in for occasional visits.
Little happens here, but the lack of activity focuses the audience on what the characters say-and don't say. Much of the dialogue is hilarious: Andy's bitter comments are deftly parried by the enigmatic, slyly secretive Bel, while Jake and Fred's bantering recalls a cross between Samuel Beckett and Lewis Carroll. But between the lines lurk pain and confusion, as the characters confront their fear of death and their disconnection from one another. Hardly a crowd pleaser, this fascinating work of theatrical poetry is superbly played under Ina Marlowe's direction. William J. Norris as Andy, Roslyn Alexander as Bel, Larry Russo and Steven J. Anderson as Jake and Fred, Caitlin Hart and Raoul Johnson as Maria and Ralph, and Jessica Young as Bridget combine verbal precision with mercurial, understated emotional ambiguity.