Prof. Connelly Performs in Production of Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter

JCU English Professor Daniel Roy Connelly and British director and actor Douglas Dean will star in an upcoming production of Harold Pinter’s one-act play, The Dumb Waiter. The play will be presented by the English Theatre of Rome at Teatro Arciliuto (near Piazza Navona), with shows running from Thursday, March 21 through Sunday March 31, with the exception of both Friday 22 and 29.

From left: Douglas Dean, Daniel Roy Connelly (The Dumb Waiter)

From left: Douglas Dean, Daniel Roy Connelly

The play, written in 1957 and first performed in 1960, is about Gus and Ben, two hitmen waiting for instructions in a basement. They pass the time by discussing seemingly trivial topics, which in reality, are loaded with deeper meaning. As the two men continue their conversation, they become aware that they are not alone in the room, which leads the play to unfold in a singular manner. For Dean, it is the best of Pinter’s early work.

Regarding his involvement in the project, Professor Connelly explained: “I’ve directed Douglas on stage, as he has previously directed me on stage as well. One thing we’ve never done is gone on stage together. I’m a big Pinter fan, and have had my eye on this play for about 10-15 years. I also managed to finally get Dean to agree on acting with me on this one.” Dean added: “I once read a review that described The Dumb Waiter as a ‘comedy of menace,’” where the laughter of the audience is accompanied by a sense of impending doom. The characters take the stage with their “quick repartee, word-play, and double meanings but at the same time, underneath all of that there’s a sense of drama, of tension, and there’s a sense of paranoia.”

For Dean, setting the right tone in a play that masterfully oscillates between comedy and drama constitutes both a reward and a challenge. “I’ve seen an interpretation of this play at a festival in Edinburgh once where they clearly went for the clowning aspect. It was a very skilled production but I thought they lost some of the tension. I’ve seen an Italian production where they were very powerful and very dramatic right from the beginning, but you lost the humor. Hopefully what we’re going to do is find that middle road.”

Dean and Connelly invite you to come and enjoy the show. Dean said “It is quite a short, very intense, fascinating piece of work, so I urge everybody to book their tickets.” For Connelly the Teatro Arciliuto “is a beautiful space as well, perfect for this. It’s such a treasure to be able to act there.”

The Dumb Waiter is a one-act play, and has a running time of about 50-55 minutes. Tickets can be booked with the English Theatre of Rome by emailing [email protected]

Find the complete interview on JCUTV.