After a brief introduction, a speech he made in 1955 after receiving the David Cohen British Literature Prize, the book is exactly what it says on the cover: "Harold Pinter: Plays" a mixture of his less well-known plays and, probably, his most famous:
"Trouble in the works"
"The black and white request stop."
Pinter's plays are not to everyone's taste and really need to be seen, acted well, rather than read, although to study them at leisure, reading is obviously essential and these editions are ideal for that. His plays need to be acted well to make use of the selective pauses, "non sequiturs", over-lapping dialogue and non-verbal language. Fortunately, his plays attract good theatres and "actOrs" able to lift the script from the page.
A mixture of very well-known and not so well-known plays, this edition contains a rich selection of his eerie, threatening, austere, normal, introspective worlds. On one page, forty-six pauses, one of his few directions - [Pause]. His characters always seem "involved", if that is the appropriate word, in a long series of disconnected conversations, lives which tangentially bump into one another, like bumper-cars at the fair - intimate contact but no communication.
In an essay on "The Caretaker", I was once harshly - but rightly - criticised by a professor who recognised in my writing the notion that the characters had continued to live beyond the final curtain. I had taken them home and lived with them for a while before consinging them to the page. This, he informed me, was not the realm of literary criticism, idle speculation on the non-existent. Some of Pinter's characters and settings have that ability to live on, off the stage and page, to haunt, to populate the imagination.
"Mother, mother, I've had the most unpleasant, the most mystifying encounter with the man who calls himself Mr Withers. Will you give me your advice?" "Family Voices", (P 142)