by Beki Pineda

THE PINTER PLAYS – Written by Harold Pinter: Directed by Ed Baierlein and Stephen R. Kramer.  Produced by Germinal Stage (presented at the Hand Theatre in Lowry, 7653 East 1st Place, Denver) through February 2.  Tickets available at 303-455-7108 or germinalstage@gmail.com

Germinal Stage has been around for nearly 46 years and has just now found a new home on the East side after performing downtown, in North Denver and Westminster.  But founder Ed Baierlein has managed to keep his company of players loyal and together.  In this new production at the Hand Theater, out of the seven actors in these two one-acts, five are returning from previous productions.  It is satisfying to welcome Germinal to the Hand Theater family.

THE COLLECTION is a mood piece involving the relationship between two couples.  Stella (Libby Arnold), the wife of James (Stephen Kramer), intimates that she has had a love affair with another man.  James seeks out who he believes the “other” man to be and confronts him.  He disrupts the relationship between this man Harry  (Gary Leigh Webster) and his partner Bill (Andrew Horsford).  Doubt surfaces with no one really seeming to know or be telling the truth.  Could the wife have made up the whole scenario?  If so, why?  In typical Pinter fashion, you are left to draw your own conclusions.

THE ROOM takes place in a nondescript generic room that is praised by Rose (Michelle Moore) who lives there with Bert (Marc Moran), a sullen van driver.  Rose seems to be trying to talk them both into an appreciation of this “cozy” spot.  But as soon as Bert leaves, a parade of characters arrive to dispel her good mood.  Mr. Kidd (Clint Heyn), the landlord; another couple – Mr. and Mrs. Sands (Andrew Horsford and Libby Arnold) – seem to be checking out the room with the intent to move in, and finally Riley (Stephen Kramer), a blind man from the basement who also seems to be preparing to move in.  Rose’s protests are ignored and the tension builds.  An air of discontent and menace pervades “the room” and again, you are left to decide whether this is specific to the play or to Pinter’s world in general.

Michelle Moore is unrecognizable compared to her last role in Vintage’s production of BOSTON MARRIAGE.  She morphed from stylish turn-of-the-century matron to dumpy 60’s English housefrau.  The set consisted of furniture from three different social classes with two rather nice rooms created for THE COLLECTION and “the” gloomy room for the second play.  It takes a special kind of play-goer to appreciate the nuance and subtlety of Pinter, but those who do like these quiet mood pieces will enjoy this production.  I can’t wait to see what they will do with Noel Coward’s HAY FEVER which is their next show opening May 10.

A WOW factor of 8!!