Julian Sands in Celebration of Harold Pinter


Pleasance Courtyard

Julian Sands takes the stage with a presence that fills the whole of the auditorium like a heavy electric current. The very air seems charged with power and potential as he launches into stories of how he became involved with Harold Pinter's poetry and the lengths the pair of them underwent to give the poems sufficient weight and the proper delivery, interspersed with short anecdotes about the man and his relationships with others, Sands recites many of the poems to great effect. Which is fantastic for about 20 minutes, but then you begin to wonder if these musings will come to any particular point or not. Which is not to say it wasn't fascinating all the same, simply not satisfying.

The main trouble with this performance is that it feels rather like it was a great idea which doesn't quite come off, and a straight poetry reading of Pinter's work would undoubtedly have been less of a crowd puller. The other trouble is that, much like any poetry, it depends on the simplicity of the source, the time given to digest it and the context within which the reading is framed. Sands has the delivery down a storm, the poetic complexities vary from the subtle to the excruciatingly blunt, while the contexts are given far less of an emphasis, which is the let-down here. The feeling is almost as if Sands and Malkovich have such an intimate knowledge of Pinter that they assume everyone else in the crowd must also know him, his life, his loves and his character with the merest prompting. It's a nicely welcoming feeling, but it left the impression that the two books which contained the larger portion of the read material were required reading beforehand.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan