TUTA’s take on “The Dumb Waiter” asks questions about the play that have been in sore need of asking for many years now. Harold Pinter has long been canonized as one of the world’s great playwrights, yet year after passing year artists continue to pursue the same tropes in his work, concentrating on the pregnant pauses, the elusive hints of malice, the voids within the plot. This production cracks that, and opens all sorts of avenues for discussion and exploration; it puts Pinter’s script through its paces.
Zeljko Djukic, who recently stepped down as artistic director of TUTA, is a tireless artist, never content to rest on his laurels; each production he spearheads shows a relentless commitment to pushing the understanding of theater and what it can accomplish. Djukic and company start loosening the audiences’ notions about Pinter from the moment they set foot in their space, a carefully planned, well-executed warren of corridors and rooms that lead, eventually, to the performance. Within we find Djukic’s two ace-in-the-hole actors, Trey Maclin and Andy Hager, cooling their heels and waiting for their job to begin.
It is a riveting 63 minutes of theater, vigorously shaking off calcified notions about the play, probing the boundary between PInter and Theater of the Absurd. It’s risky; daring. Some of the aforementioned questions are left unanswered. In less skilled hands this piece might fall short, but TUTA is a seasoned company of thoughtful, energetic, and skillful artists. This production is funny, unnerving, challenging, and wholly worth seeing.