The Pinter at the Pinter season included a one-off gala night earlier this month to mark what would have been the playwright’s 88th birthday. And some had clearly got in the festive spirit long before the curtain went up.
Actors including Jeremy Irons, Kristin Scott Thomas and Sheila Hancock performed scenes from Pinter’s plays, poems, letters and more.
The start, however, was anything but smooth. First up was John Simm, who is to join the Pinter season in December, starring in Party Time and Celebration. As Goldberg in The Birthday Party, he gave a pitch-perfect delivery of the monologue from Act III, which culminates with the exhortation to his associate McCann: “Give me a blow, blow in my mouth.”
Somewhat misreading the room, a reveller from the back of the theatre saw this not as a celebration of the great writer’s words, but more as a call and response. “I’ll give you a blow,” she cried to the shock of the rest of the audience. To Simm’s credit he remained outwardly un-phased, completed the scene and returned to his seat.
That was more than could be said for the exuberant audience member, so moved by Simm’s performance. A cry of “Take your hands off me” was shortly heard as the miscreant was presumably escorted out of the auditorium. Perhaps it was all an innocent mistake, and the punter thought it was Panto at the Pinter instead…