The city and landscapes beyond Harold Pinter's rooms
Pinter's dramas have been labelled as 'absurd', 'mysterious', 'enigmatic', 'taciturn'. There has been a constant tendency to reduce the idea of the 'Pinteresque' to language when Pinter is preoccupied with the tensions between reality and the world of the imagination. He has, actually and accurately, used theatre as a 'critical act' to denote the abstracted realities, and he has applied his language to embody his world-view - his concerns in the contemporary capitalist world. Pinter has journeyed from the room to the outside world, from the private to the public social space, and has identified an inescapable sense of pessimism and alienation, and investigated an alarming world of atrocities. There are cities and landscapes beyond Pinter's rooms, cities peopled by wandering, displaced figures surveying the self-estranged city that is modern consciousness, and landscapes where his people retreat into the private realms of memory and fantasy. This thesis explores the virtual geographies beyond Pinter's rooms through the vocabulary of some modernist theoreticians and social scientists, as there are significant parallels between their analytical observations and the poetic perceptions of Pinter, a practising artist, and the phantom images of his characters. Pinter's plays and film adaptations tend to portray the city as a colonial present, and the country as a mythological past. The 1970s' plays portray a community of isolation, urban decay, dispossession and suffering, through the figure of the 'flâneur' - his characters' subjective experiences, memories and fantasies in the metropolis. In these memory plays, men and women have different mental landscapes and desires. To some extent the city is both a male-constructed world and an image of the twentieth century; in both senses it is anti-human and in decline. In his 1980s mature plays, Pinter's lyrical interiors and serene landscapes are colonised by the metropolis. Here Pinter investigates a universally oppressive space filled with misery and social dislocation. The city destroys humanity in a decaying modem world. These plays identify the global city as the locus of existential alienation and as the centre of political power and oppression - a world of brute masculine power. The last two plays, in this study explore other wastelands of human isolation and suffering, and criticise the British suspicion of the 'intelligentsia'. Using scenes that are ingrained in the contemporary audience's physical memory, Pinter makes the distinction between being an active participant and being a witness, a 'spectator' in this alarming world. And thus, he criticises the tradition of mockery of the artistic and the intellectually curious in Britain, and urges a need for a 'politically curious', at politically questioning theatre-going society.