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The Northerner

Play poses more questions than answers

Amy Ehrnreiter

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The house lights dimmed creating a moment so dark the audience couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces, lasting just long enough to make them feel uncomfortable yet anxious.

Those were the moments before Nathan Gabriel’s production of “The Dumb Waiter” began.

The audience knew little about the plot of Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter.” Anyone who hadn’t previously read the play only knew it consisted of two men waiting in an abandoned room.

That is exactly what the play was about.

Gus, played by professional actor Matthew Pyle, sat reading a newspaper. His suit was neatly ironed, shirt tucked in and his hair tightly pulled into a low ponytail. With his poise and appearance, Gus appeared to be a powerful person without even saying a word.

Pyle did a great job establishing authority in his character, Gus. From the moment the play began, the audience could see the temper of Gus rising. The entire play his patience lessened and his anger increased.

On the other side of the room, sat the opposite personality of Ben, played by professional actor Taren Frazier. Struggling to sleep, Ben tossed around on the bed in attempt to find a comfortable position. He wore a wrinkled shirt and had no overcoat for his suit. His messy hair, need for a silence breaker and constant desire to be active made a perfect partner for Gus.

Because of his actions, the audience could interpret he was the younger of the two. Ben never established any type of leadership, although he added great action to the play. His activeness complimented the lack of movement in character of Gus.

Ben also added humor to the play. He was the comic relief needed with the heaviness of the plot, even though most of the time the audience laughed at him rather than with him.

Gabriel did an excellent job in casting these two men for the parts of Ben and Gus. Every element of the characters coincides with those of the actor, from charisma to facial expressions.

The movement of the characters was well directed. It seemed every move had a reason or a plan, and that every room exit or entrance had a purpose.

The opening scene really set the mood for the entire play with a passive Gus and active Ben. Both men spoke in heavy English accents. Although they were consistent with their accents, they were hard to understand at times.

With the entire play consisting only of dialogue between the two men making the setting an important element. The play was set in a bedroom in the bottom floor of an old house, and two beds were all the room contained.

The bedroom wall served as a backdrop, but the top of it was jagged, and the floor was painted in the same fashion. Although distracting at times, the jagged setting personified to mood of the play.

Hidden within the wall were a dumb waiter and a talk box used to communicate with others along the path of the dumb waiter. It was upon the dissension of a message through the dumb waiter the tension began to escalate between the two men. With each new message, the men grow irritable and violent.

The ending of the play comes at the most climactic moment in the plot, with Gus being torn between friendship and business.

Traditionally, a play has a resolution, but “The Dumb Waiter” left the audience at the edge of their seats wanting to know what happens next.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Play poses more questions than answers