The Dumb Waiter at Reading CollegeBy Caroline Cook
June 21, 2012
What do you get if you lock two hitmen in a basement?
It might sound like a bad joke but the conundrum is actually the plot of Harold Pinter’s modern classic The Dumb Waiter, which will be performed by Reading's newest professional theatre company next month.
Reading Repertory Theatre, or Reading Rep, is the brainchild of brothers Alan and Paul Stacey and the company is hoping to arrive in style with its inaugural production.
“We grew up in Reading so we are really keen to create something here,” explained Paul, who is also directing the debut play. “I’m a big fan of Pinter which perhaps comes into it, but I think it’s an ideal play to start with. He is one of England’s most prominent 20th Century playwrights and I didn’t want to go for anything too obscure or too over-ambitious for a young company. It seemed like something we could put our stamp on.”
The one-act play is set in a basement where hitmen Ben and Gus are pacing the floor, waiting for their assignment. As Gus struggles with the memory of his last job tension in the room grows, interrupted only by the orders which fall into the room through the dumbwaiter hatch in the wall.
“The first play is a modern classic but we will be looking to do Shakespeare as well as new writing, and maybe a few musicals at Christmas,” said Paul, who first took to the stage as a pupil at Waingels College in Woodley.
Paul came up with the idea for Reading Rep while studying at Harvard University in America, where he worked with the American Repertory Theatre.
“They have a model between educational institutions and professional theatre companies that does not exist quite the same way in England,” he explained. “I was working in America as a director and then worked in London before I came back to Reading. Reading has lots of amazing theatre going on around it, between the plays and new work, as well as Red Cape, who are resident at South Street.
“But what we are trying to create is a regular theatre for Reading that will eventually have a national reputation.”
Teaming up with brother Alan, who is founding chairman of the board and also works as commercial director of the Young Vic Theatre in London, Paul set about bringing his vision to the town.
“Reading Borough Council’s Cultural Partnership has been really generous with funding and is supporting us with the start up for the initial season,” he said. “It was huge when that happened, and I thought maybe we are on to something.”
The company has also teamed up with Reading College and will be using its performance studio to showcase its work.
Reading Rep present Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter from Monday, July 9, to Saturday, July 21 at Reading College Performing Arts Centre, King’s Road, Reading. Tickets start from £10. To book, visit www.readingrep.com