Hampstead Theatre reopens with Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter

The postponed production of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter will mark the reopening of Hampstead Theatre in November with social distancing

Dumb Waiter Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre is to reopen for live performances in November with a 60th-anniversary production of Harold Pinter’s black comedy, The Dumb Waiter.

Postponed from the spring because of the global pandemic, it is directed by Alice Hamilton, co-artistic director of Up in Arms theatre company. 

Running from 18 November to 19 December, it will be staged with socially distanced audiences, offering 193 tickets per performance in a space that normally holds around 400. 

Not only will people be sat at least one metre away from others outside their bubble or household, but the theatre has introduced strict social distancing measures throughout. 

It is also promoting its state-of-the-art ventilation system which means air in the auditorium and foyer is 100% fresh from outdoors rather than “recycled”.

As a further incentive, the theatre has pledged to provide full refunds or credit vouchers if The Dumb Waiter has to be postponed.

The play first premiered as part of Hampstead Theatre’s inaugural season in 1960 directed by Hampstead’s founder James Roose-Evans.

It features two hitmen, Ben and Gus, who are waiting for instructions in a derelict building when they start to receive strange messages via a dumb waiter system.

Set and costume design is by James Perkins, lighting design by James Whiteside, and music composition and sound by Giles Thomas. 

Casting is still to be announced. In March, it was originally set to star Philip Jackson and Harry Lloyd.

Hampstead Theatre’s artistic director, Roxana Silbert, said: “When we closed the building on 16 March, the set was on the stage and the show was about to open. At that point, we could not have envisaged how Pinter’s brilliant play of two men stuck in a room – their sharp humour, ennui, tensions – would come to feel so extraordinarily fresh and resonant. 

“We are thrilled at the prospect of welcoming our artists and audiences back into the building and galvanised by the prospect of sharing the communal experience which is unique to live theatre.”

The team at Hampstead Theatre also hope that The Dumb Waiter “is the first of many live productions it can offer during these unusual times”.

Tickets for The Dumb Waiter go on sale on Wednesday 14 October. 

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About Mark Ludmon 248 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre as well as hospitality and drinks after starting out on regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He has also been on the judging panel for the Olivier Awards. He can be found tweeting as @MarkLudmon and writing about theatre at https://markludmon.com.