An Absurd Pair Of Shorts
The action of the play, which is largely of a mundane and domestic nature, take place in the sitting room of the Typical London household.
At 6.43pm on the evening of November 10th 1977 (approx)
About the play
Some years ago I remember introducing a group of students to the concept of surrealism in theatre and art, We looked at some extracts from Pinter’s work (among others) they were less than impressed and said the work was ridiculous and completely unrealistic. A short time later we were outside the National Gallery and overheard one side a telephone conversation, it went like this:
Girl: is that you (pause) it’s me here, (pause) are you there (pause) I’m here (pause) no I’m here (pause) where are you then (pause) Oh you’re there...I thought you were…
By emphasising the banality of our domestic lives the surrealists Illuminated them and exposed the darker side of our lives, the way we hide our true feelings behind net curtains or pleasantries, cups of tea and well tended gardens.
Rene Magritte was born in 1898 and in best known for his surrealist art works, Stoppards play is laden with references to Magritte, from the tuba playing matriarch (The acrobats exercises 1928) and of course the famous bowler hatted men. Stoppards play is very much a homage to the world of the surreal where the everyday seems strange and the unusual the norm.
Q:”How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?” A: Fish
A SLIGHT ACHE
The action of the play takes place on a hot summers day.
About the play
I have always been fascinated with the work of Pinter, mainly because of his ideology and his rich understanding of the human psyche. This play like much of his work is driven by the idea of invasion, much like the uninvited police in After Magritte, Edward allows the match seller into the house. At first glance, the idea of a person entering into someone else’s house appears to be quite simple, but the undercurrent is one of hostility and territory. I have always been intrigued by the symbol of a doorway and what that represents in society. A barricade, a mark of privacy and property. But it is often the barriers with which we put up to protect us that will inevitably lead to our own self-destruction.
Something, which has always confused me when in debate about Pinter, is the idea that he is a misogynist. With his female characters always being oppressed by the male. However look closer and you will see a very solid matriarchal foundation. Whether it is Flora of Ruth in The Homecoming, Pinter has always created incredibly strong female characters.
If you have the opportunity to watch this play, consider what isn’t said, more than what is and the fear that is deeply routed in the human being, the fear of being replaced by something you cannot understand.
One final thought, in most plays that you will see the pause will break the dialogue, but, as to this piece (and Magritte) and indeed to life, it is the dialogue that breaks the silence.
A SLIGHT ACHE
After Magritte By Tom Stoppard
A Slight Ache By Harold Pinter
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