Lewis and Clark Valley News

UI Theatre Arts presents “The Dumb Waiter” — “The Dumb Waiter” is a play shrouded in mystery

“The Dumb Waiter,” is a play of mystery, suspense, and betrayal that will surely keep the audience at the edge of their seats, not knowing what will happen next.

The show, written by English playwright Harold Pinter and put on by the University of Idaho Theatre Department, will play this weekend at the Forge Theatre.

The show started Sept. 13 and plays at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 through Sept. 16 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 and Sept. 17. The show is free for UI students and $10 for the general public. Tickets are available at the door, 30 minutes before the start of each show and the play runs for approximately 50 minutes with no intermission.

For those who are not familiar with the play, certain aspects of the play, directed by UI MFA candidate Stephen John, may seem confusing. There will be little details that seem unimportant or key details that could be vital to the story, but at times don’t quite make sense.

The play takes place in the basement kitchen of an old cafe that has since been turned into a makeshift bedroom.

The set is comprised of four dumbwaiters- small freight elevators used to carry objects- surrounding two beds to form a square, one in each corner. At the center, a single lamp hangs overhead. The audience members are seated along all sides of the square, lining the walls of the Forge Theatre. No matter where an audience member sits, they will have a good view of the action.

The play consists of only two characters, Ben (Gerrit Wilford) and Gus (Daniel Cassilagio). Wilford and Cassilagio spoke in captivating English accents throughout the play, in keeping with the setting of the play- Birmingham, England. The actors did an excellent job in portraying the characters. Their body language and diction made the characters’ personality and emotion evident. Wilford does a good job maintaining a steady accent for the duration of the play, but Cassilagio’s accent sometimes sounds more like a Southern accent than British.

The English atmosphere is further amplified by British specific words and phrases that might sound strange to those not accustomed to British vocabulary.

The play opens with Ben and Gus, assumed to be hitmen, moving about in a small space. They appear to be waiting for something, presumably for their next mission. Their outfits add to the hitman look, with each wearing white dress shirts, dark pants and a weapon holstered in a shoulder holster.

Numerous times throughout the play, the pair argue, usually because of Gus’s excessive talking and questioning.

“The kettle, you fool!” screamed Ben in one scene where he snapped after bickering over the correct usage for the words kettle and gas in that context.

Gus, who constantly seems to be in a state of anxiousness, repeatedly questions Ben on the details of the next mission. Ben, who seems to know the instructions for the next mission to some degree, repeatedly brushes him off.

“The Dumb Waiter” progresses in an unexpected way. The story is shrouded by mysteries and the audience is always left anticipating what will happen next.

However, a mystery also lies in the actual meaning of the play. At the end, it leaves audience members with many questions and provides little answers. The audience is left to their own deductions and interpretations on what each scene means and its weight on the story.

The play is like a puzzle that audience members need to sort out for themselves in order to get the final picture. Those who love a good mystery and puzzle would enjoy this play.

May Ng can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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