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One for the Road

Irish Independent 13th May 1994, Lorcan Roche

In ‘One for the Road’ (1984) the latest Pinter offering at the Gate, we witness the playwright at the height of his powers, brilliantly creating, in a terse 50-minute play, a world of political terror and torture which has resonances across the globe today, from Beirut to Belfast.

And, in the role of Nick, Michael Pennington delivers a towering performance, terrifying in its raw honesty and sadistic conviction.

For Pennington’s performance alone, ‘One for the Road’ has to be seen.

But under John Crowley’s sharply focused direction, Nicholas Grennell, Jane Brennan and young Ciarán Fitzgerald, as the politically undesirable father, mother and son becoming haunting spectres, assuming almost epic proportion as tragic reminders of our collective apathy and ignorance.

Unusually for this festival, I had minor quibbles with the lighting, which was too flat, and with the costumes, which were too rooted in time and place.

But I underline the word minor, because for me ‘One for the Road’ represents (thus far) the highlight of the Pinter Festival, perhaps because it represents Pinter’s finest hour in moving away from the familiar and predictable territory of upper middle class English husbands and wives.

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