Well, we managed to tech the show pretty much like we blocked the show—IN ONE DAY! Wow, luxuries—and unheard of! But this gives us lots of time to keep tuning the show, keep shifting the balance of threat and playfulness, of mask and revelation, of history and present. It is really proving to be one of the toughest assignments I have faced, not because of the physical demand, merely the mental. The play demands absolute focus, absolute concentration, no mental relaxation for a second, because the emotional stakes are so high. The strain on listening is immense—and this means that any noise, and I mean ANY, feels like a slap in the face. And it means I am not feeling emotionally comfortable—and I have to face up to being uncomfortable for the next six weeks. This play feeds on some of our darkest emotions, but not by putting the characters through extremis. Instead, these people are just going through mid-life crises, sieved by Pinter into an existential 70 minutes of doubt.
The set looks great—very simple and elegant, and yet floating in a void—and JR’s lighting, as always, really enhances the atmospherics, playing up the ghostly woods and the distant horizon, and, as James has commented, creating little Cornell boxes, “cages of infinity” (in Michael Billington’s phrase). The last moment is excitingly theatrical and haunting—I will say no more at this juncture. You’ll have to come and see me tortured from the inside for yourselves.