TROY — While exiting the theater after viewing Troy Foundry Theatre’s inaugural production — Harold Pinter’s, “New World Order” — I overheard a flustered young woman say to her boyfriend, “perhaps a musical next time.”
Well, yes, this evening omnibus of six short Pinter plays and sketches are a bit disquieting. But what pushes that disquiet to the edge of horror is that the themes of these plays — corruption, totalitarianism and the systematic strangulation of societal norms — has never seemed more timely.
And that is not something to sing about.
Astutely and brilliantly directed by the company’s artistic director, David Girard, the production is an auspicious debut for the area’s newest professional theater company.
The evening is a clever assemblage of Pinter’s short sketches, “God’s District,” “Precisely,” “Press Conference,” “New World Order” and two of the author’s one act plays, “Mountain Language” and “One for the Road.”
The two plays have had their scenes sliced apart and tucked in between the four sketches to create a compelling and powerful evening. If this shuffle of scenes and sketches sounds confusing, trust me, it is not. (Nor is it lengthly. The whole thing is 65 minutes without an intermission).
The common theme of all six pieces allows this evening to flow quite seamlessly and perhaps heightens their nerve-racking effect.
Loosely following the detainment of a husband, wife and their small child by a governmental state for “questioning,” the evening descends into a harrowing tale between the powerful and the powerless.
Detailing what happens on the couple’s journey would lessen the emotional impact of the piece, so I’ll keep mum. But I will say that rarely, in my experience, has the Pinter landscape of language and silence proved so unsettling.
Strong kudos to the assembled cast of Ethan Botwick, Shane David Cameris, John Romeo, along with founding company members Emily Curro and Alex Tarantelli.
Taking on multiple roles, each deliver strong and often heartbreaking performances. But the most terrifying performance belongs to area theater vet John Romeo. From his character of a smiling menace waving his fingers in a pointless dance of power at the start of the evening to his portrayal of a glib and sanctimonious government minister at the show’s close, the actor provides the creepy chill of masked evil that lingers long after the lights go to black.
Is this an evening for everyone. Probably not. But it is an important one, and one that is well presented. The themes are uncomfortable and brutal, knocking our cool sense of comfort and complacency across the room with a slap, forcing us to tremble in a visceral way.
To quote the late great playwright Simon Gray’s comments on these plays of Pinter — they demonstrate and explore the “the triumph of evil over innocence.” Are these plays of Pinter truly the New World Order? Or are they pointing out that this is the way it still is and we have we been deceiving ourselves that those days have passed?
Bring on the tap dancing girls and falling chandelier. It will help distract from what is happening in the room down the hall. But it may not stifle the screams.
‘New World Order’
WHERE: Troy Foundry Theatre. Hanger on the Hudson, Troy
WHEN: Through Oct.27
HOW MUCH: Free