The Room - Premiere

Programme Cover
The Room was first presented at The Drama Studio, The University of Bristol, May 1957

Bert Hudd - Claude Jenkins
Rose Hudd - Susan Engel
Mr. Kidd - Henry Woolf
Mr. Sands - David Davies
Mrs. Sands - Auriol Smith
Riley - George Odlum

Producer - Henry Woolf

This Young Author Scores a Hit
One can never be sure about these private University productions-quality varies so much. Last night the climb up Park-street was rewarded. I'm so glad I didn't miss this production, Henry Woolf, whose work as a character actor has caught our eye before, here introduces himself as an intelligent and sensitive producer. He introduces too, an old school friend of his, Harold Pinter, who as a writer, should go on writing. THE ROOM was completed in two days by this 26-year-old Bournemouth repertory actor. In those two days he gave his play a strange macabre atmosphere, a commendable quality of natural looking dialogue, and a dramatically powerfully climax which stabs at the conscience. The audience who could be so easily have ruined the evening behaved admirably. They warmed to the early unconscious humour, yet went deathly still as the play became more and more taut. Acting was admirable. Susan Engel, and Old Vic Theatre School student, excelled as the dowdy wife, and in their various ways Henry Woolf (mysterious landlord). David Davies and Auriol Smith (loquacious young couple). George Odlum (blind negro) and Claude Jenkins (silent, morose husband) all made their contribution. One feels the spiritual significance of the end without being completely happy about the way it is expressed. The writer should have left slightly less to the imagination. The producer appeared disappointed that the set could not be improved. He need have had no such disappointment; it was adequate.
Bristol Evening World, May 1957

Larger than Life at the Festival

Harold Hobson
The [other] play The Room by Harold Pinter was presented by the Old Vic Theatre School and the Department of Drama of the University. It was a revelation and the directors of the London Arts Theatre and of the English Stage Company should be after Mr. Pinter before they ear their lunch today. It is a brief excursion, in a slum room, into the nightmare world of insecurity and uncertainty. It has touches of Ionesco and echoes of Beckett; and somewhere not far distant is the disturbing ghost of that Henry James who turned the screw. What exactly the plot is, where the elusive landlord really lived, who are the unexplained couple seeking lodgings, why the lorry-driver husband is so long mute, what it the parentage of the woman who clings so desperately to shabby respectability, are questions that do not admit of precise solutions. They do not need to. The play makes one stir uneasily in one’s shoes, and doubt, for a moment, the comforting solidity of the earth. Duncan Ross directs it with the unstoppable speed of an Olympic runner, and students of the Old Vic School act it memorably, especially Susan Engel as the wife and Neville Gaha as the husband who suddenly leaps into a Niagara of brutal and sadistic rhetoric. Michael Ackland's set is excellent in itself as an exercise in realism, but does it fit the indeterminate and shifting boundaries of the play? No matter; The Room is an experience. I believe it was discovered, directly or indirectly, by the Department of Drama. It is a matter for them of pride.
The Sunday Times, January 1958
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