The Dumb Waiter | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Dumb Waiter


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The Dumb Waiter, Theatrevolution. In Harold Pinter's grimly comic one-act, two gunmen await their instructions. Ben ranks higher than Gus, who's been complaining lately about working conditions, questioning the company's policies, and generally making trouble. Ben tries to keep order as they wait in a shabby rented room to make their next hit, but Gus won't be silenced. Then cryptic messages begin arriving by way of a long unused dumbwaiter.

When confronted with only two characters, a director's usual impulse is to highlight their differences. But Adrian Casas rejects a simple bully-and-wimp dynamic, instead seeing in the men's relationship a metaphor for political insurrection (which he reinforces by playing Sex Pistols songs before and after the show). Michael Rushton as Ben and Matthew Carter as Gus are alert and connected, and Carter portrays Gus not as the standard-issue innocent palooka but as a tightly strung rebel whose intensity unnerves even his confident partner. Here Gus resigns himself to his fate before the distraught Ben ever suspects the part he himself will play in sealing it.

One might expect The Dumb Waiter, one of the most popular plays on the storefront circuit, to be nearly exhausted by now. But with this original interpretation, Theatrevolution more than lives up to its name.

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