I’ll admit, I bought the ticket just to see Lee Evans.
I’m a huge fan of his stand up and the chance to see him on stage again was too good an opportunity to miss.
It’s a bonus the short plays, sketches and cast are also superb. The magnificent cast consists of Keith Allen, Tom Edden, Lee Evans, Tamsin Greig and Meera Syal.
While Landscape / A Kind of Alaska / Monologue are featured on the poster, there are also several 2-3 minute sketches interspersed between.
Stage design is minimal, allowing you to focus on the dialogue while a rotating stage and shifting walls aid scene changes.
Tom Edden was the only performer I didn’t know prior (probably the least known of the quintet for most of the audience too), but he quickly established his presence in his first sketch about an article he once read about a woman who liked to be spanked… Already a comedic subject, his quick paced delivery impressed and continued to in other sketches, particularly with Evans.
Pinter’s quirky dialogue and story lines together with Evans’ delivery is a perfect match. Evans’ brings his usual energy and comical facial expressions which alone can create of a roar of laughter.
Whether that be discussing if pain shoots up or down when wearing a sandwich board, a mundane conversation as old women complete in outrageous wigs or a back and forth conversation with Edden with long, ridiculous and funny product names in one of the night’s best sketches, Trouble in the Works.
The strength of Pinter’s genius is clear when the comedy quickly turns to sadness without notice.
Monologue sees Evans talking to an empty chair, reminiscing about the old days, pacing furiously around the room and even standing on the chair at one point, before ending on a poignant point of what should have been.
Opening act, Landscape, sees Tasmin Greig remember happier times, while her husband, Allen, describes life in the present, before joining Greig in the past, before building to an emotional and angry account ending of an unhappy time (Allen is outstanding).
A Kind Of Alaska, Grieg wakes up from a 29 year ‘sleep’ and has to come to terms with lost time, was the weakest of the short plays, unfortunately the last on the night. It isn’t bad by any means, just not up to the quality that preceded it.
Apart from that (also the name of a very funny sketch between Evans and Syal), the quality of the cast is apparent from the poster and delivers everything promised from such a comedic ensemble.Rating 4/5
Harold Pinter Theatre
25th October – 8th December
If you’re looking for an alternative comedy, I can also recommend the new play by Martin McDonagh, A Very Very Very Dark Matter (review).