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The whole thing has a terrific proto Orton-esque loucheness to it – HP sauce, you might say; and David Suchet is a hoot as the sinister Harry, snapping every syllable, a querulous dandy-poseur.
The latter also boasts fine performances from Russell Tovey, as a cocksure dress-designer who may or may not have spent the night with Squires in Leeds, and from David Suchet as a flouncy gay man: a Quentin, you might say, done to a crisp.
What's wonderful is the acting, which has terrific detail, and the words, so rich as to be almost like poetry. Seeing these early plays in the context of Pinter's later work, you also realise how his essential worldview sits comfortably in the domestic and the wider political sphere.
In The Collection, Russell Tovey is blissfully funny as Bill, a louche bisexual fashion designer who finds himself lusted after by the married man who arrives unannounced to accuse him of bedding his spouse in a Leeds hotel.
Though the quality of some of the pieces is variable, these first two instalments in Lloyd’s project allow audiences to see great actors work with Pinter’s less frequently performed material and whet the appetite for what’s to come.
The top notch cast do a good job of wringing laughs out of it: Suchet has the room cracking up with every waspish utterance, and Tovey is the epitome of insouciant charm.
If it feels more icky than progressive these days, we've come a long way in the depiction of power in male-female relationships.
Another study of hidden lives and infidelity, it has a velvety atmosphere and moments of ripe humour. It’s also, like Pinter’s best work, full of menace, mystery and wickedly barbed one-liners.