One for the Road by Harold Pinter.Paradox Theatre Company at the Currong Contemporary Arts Theatre, Gorman House Arts Centre. Directed by Belinda Pearson. October 31 - November 2 and November 6 – 9, 1996, 8.00 pm. All proceeds to support Amnesty International.
This is a short play - barely 40 minutes - but the combination of Pinter's honesty and writing skills with the clarity of characterisation achieved particularly by Phil Roberts, as Nicolas the interrogator, makes this production one you should not miss. It's a confronting play because you come away understanding how a torturer thinks. I'm glad it didn't last longer because I was ready to break all my principles of non-violence: I could easily have shot that interrogator if someone had handed me the gun.
Pinter has said "I'm aware that I do possess two things. One is that I'm quite violent myself....On the other hand, however, I'm quite reticent." He has used this self-knowledge in creating Nicolas, who we see interrogating a man, his wife and their son - each separately. Torture is the norm, happening off-stage before and after each interview. The reality which Amnesty International confronts every day in probably 90 countries around the world is made real for us in the theatre in the slippery character of Nicolas.
This is a brave production for Amnesty for it forces us to come to terms with the effort we must make to turn around the figures from 1995: 85 countries holding prisoners of conscience; 46,000 people held without charge; 27 countries imprisoning people after unfair trials; 10,000 people subjected to torture including 4,500 who died in custody in 54 countries; 63 countries where people were executed without trial; 140,000 people in 49 countries who have 'disappeared'; 2,900 people executed in 41 countries which still impose the death penalty.
Intelligent direction of Pinter's tightly controlled, carefully stylised dialogue has created spine-chilling tension. I would like this play to be put on as inservice training in every police station and prison in the country: our own human rights record is not yet perfect - enacting this torturer before those who hold such power daily, in Paradox's minimal setting, must help change the dark side of our culture.© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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