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‘Dumb Waiter’s’ marvelous actors even better together

What made Found Door’s production of “The Dumb Waiter” (part of Test Market’s annual Beckett Festival) such an exciting experience is that not only is it well-acted (by Drew Yonemori and Erik Amblad) and well-directed (by Ela Rose), but it captures the spirit of Harold Pinter, an author whose spirit is very difficult to catch. It’s equally frightening and funny, and those two qualities don’t fit together without a cast and crew who really know what they’re doing.

I don’t want to give out too much of the plot, except to say it’s about two men in a room waiting for something. It takes a while for us to understand what these simple folk are out to do, and who they are out to do it to. We spend a lot of time listening to their you’re-getting-on-my-nerves bantering, and their wondering why, for example, a dumbwaiter is lowering down menu orders, even though the building is supposed to be deserted, or why an envelope containing nothing but matches has been slipped under a door from the outside.

When the play’s over, you’ll still have questions (you always do with Pinter). But if you sit back and enjoy the menace, humor and performance rhythms — if you pay attention and just let the production happen to you — then you’re likely to feel you’ve experienced a complete evening of something.

Amblad is the senior of the two men, and the actor makes his character fastidious, authoritative and dangerous. When Amblad bellows, you know you’d better listen. Yonemori is the befuddled one, and the actor’s performance — he’s never given a better one in Vegas — is always in perfect pitch. He doesn’t overdo his naiveté.

And while the actors are marvelous individually, they are even more exciting as a team. You can feel the energy between them. You believe they have the professional relationship that the script says they do.

Rose’s skill shows not only in her handling of the actors, but in the remarkable pacing. Rarely do you find an amateur director who understands so well when to slow down or hurry. She’s not afraid to allow the story to unfold at its own leisurely speed.

The script isn’t for everyone. But I hope people who don’t know the author will give this production a try — especially those who appreciate how dramatic and uplifting the sound of beautiful language spoken by expert actors can be.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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