Northside SF
Sexual desire reigns in Harold Pinter plays
from Off Broadway West Theatre Company

There’s an old adage with writers that claims putting the words “sex” and “death” in the title brings a better chance for success.

The Off Broadway West Theatre Company knows that. It’s evident in its new production of Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter, now playing at the Phoenix Theater through March 26. One thing is for sure: a night with Harold Pinter can’t be dull.

The great polemicist produced an enormous body of work. The OBWTC chose two one-act plays for this production: The Dumb Waiter and The Lover.

The Dumb Waiter
debuted in London in 1961 and was a great success. Not surprisingly, the subject of the two-character play is murky. An existential debate takes a curiously comic predicament into the realm of homicide.

The Lover
reveals a kinky sort of game against a backdrop of bourgeois respectability – one of Pinter’s favorite topics for satire. Pinter was a master at keeping the audience off-kilter. The Lover premiered in 1962, also in London.

In addition to his voluminous output of plays, Pinter wrote 27 screenplays and was an actor. He was also known for his left-leaning politics, fiercely opposing the Persian Gulf wars, the wars in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. In 2003, he made a speech in the House of Commons against the Iraq War, describing Tony Blair as “a deluded idiot” and comparing United States foreign policy to Nazi Germany. Vintage Pinter. He died in 2008.

The OBWTC is now in its fourth season. The cast for both productions is Shane Fahy, Connor Hamill, Nicole Helfer, and Chad Stender.

Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter: The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street (btw. Geary & Post), Suite 601, Thursday–Saturday 8 p.m. Tickets $35 (discounts available for seniors and students) at 800-838-3006,; additional information at 415-407-3214.

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