Tony Award winners Edward Albee and Harold Pinter have left indelible marks on theaters everywhere by not saying what isn’t but implying everything and nothing. Famed for their subtle comic renderings of the ambivalent meeting the ambiguous, Albee and Pinter each produced a one-act play in 1960. In celebration of Albee’s FAM AND YAM and Pinter’s THE DUMB WAITER, The Pacific Resident Theatre presents these two early pieces in tandem in a thought-provoking and amusing retrospective of the 60s – and even includes a Go-Go Dancer (Jennifer Knox) to polish off the era. PRT has been waiting for two years to open this show, which was originally set for April 10, 2020 – and the players have certainly been seasoned by the delay.
Albee’s FAM AND YAM opens with famed playwright FAM (Brad Greenquist) waiting for a young and new-to-the-business playwright (YAM) to arrive at his penthouse for a little tete-a-tete. It seems that FAM received a highly complementary letter from the up-and-coming writer asking for a meeting – but the why wasn’t spelled out. When YAM lets FAM in on the secret – he is writing an article debunking everyone involved in producing a play – FAM can barely control his amusement at the thought. The two continue to dance around each other – FAM fueled on fastidious sips of happy juice – until YAM leaves. What just happened? Certainly nothing that FAM anticipated.
Pinter’s THE DUMB WAITER digs into the close relationship between two hit men waiting in a basement for their next assignment. Ben (Anthony Foux) has clearly been in the business for a long time and knows how to follow orders and get the job done – but the younger Gus (Jason Downs) is confused and scared by this strange set-up. Gus has lots of questions which he can’t articulate, and Ben has lots of answers which he doesn’t care to share. And then there’s that dumb waiter, which keeps clattering away with food orders from above. Where is this going anyway? TRIVIA FLASH: Martin McDonagh, the author of the hit film “In Bruges” acknowledged that THE DUMB WAITER was his inspiration for the movie, a black comedy.
Skilled directors Elina de Santos (THE DUMB WAITER) and Marilyn Fox (FAM AND YAM and THE DUMB WAITER) appear to have a special relationship with these absurdist authors. They understand just the right way to make the unknowable remain unknowable – but still entertaining. The actors are perfectly cast in Albee’s and Pinter’s two early one act plays and do a bang-up job of making confusion seem quite all right. This is a blockbuster combo for Albee/Pinter fans, one that will amply demonstrate their writing chops while raising more questions than hackles. To top off a thought-provoking evening peppered by chuckles, a talk-back follows each presentation, giving the audience a chance to air their own questions and observations.
ALBEE/PINTER runs through December 17, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Pacific Resident Theatre is located at 705 ½ Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291. Tickets start at $20. For information and reservations, call 310-822-8392 or go online.