The Dumb Waiter

Hello, Internetland! Who is the dumb waiter? For any of you who have read Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot this is a familiar concept to you.

I read The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter last week for my theatre class. At first I was really confused when I read it. Why? Well let me tell you: This play isn’t as confusing as some of Pinter’s other plays. For example we actually know the profession of the two characters. They are hit men and they are waiting for their next job to arrive. Usually in Pinter’s plays you are left guessing what the profession of the characters are. Example would be in The Room and in The Birthday Party you think the characters may have shady professions but it’s never actually confirmed.

Anyway, so these two guys, Ben and Gus are waiting for their boss to get in touch with them so they can do their next job. While they wait they have simple conversation about the news paper. Ben is disgusted with a girl who killed a cat. Ironic, no? I mean this guy shoots people for a living and he’s judging a little girl for killing a kitty? He probably killed kitties when he was a snot-nosed little sadist– I mean, child…

So these two guys are waiting, waiting, waiting for something to happen. Similar to Waiting for Godot where there are also two guys waiting for someone. Ben and Gus have a little argument about whether you light the gas, light the kettle or put the kettle on. It’s a dumb argument but it symbolizes a struggle for power.

Suddenly, a bunch of weird things occur. Someone pushes matches under the door. Ben and Gus have never had someone interact like that with them during a job before. Then the dumbwaiter in the centre of the room starts to send down food orders from above.

The food orders are simple at first but keep getting more and more difficult to do. Obviously, these guys don’t have a lot of food but they send up what they have.

Gus starts talking about their last job as well, which Ben really doesn’t want to talk about. their last hit was a girl. this has disturbed Gus and he has started questioning the organization that he works for. Gus also mentions how Ben stopped the car while they were driving to their new location. Ben could have stopped the car because he too was disturbed by killing a woman or maybe Gus asked one too many questions and the organization has decided to get rid of him.

I think that the food orders are a test for both of them. If they can do the job with out asking questions they pass. Gus, however, gets frustrated and starts asking questions.

The end of the play is a super neat twist and I don’t want to give it away so you should read it! So far I think this is my favourite Pinter play.

Next on the reading list is: the Maestro by Tim Wynn Jones

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