WATCHING one Pinter play is a delight but two in one evening is a luxury.

There were less than a handful of empty seats at The Pump House Theatre on Tuesday night, which is testament both to the quality of the pieces on offer and the cast who for the most part, coped ably with Pinter's snappy dialogue.

The first play, Celebration, takes place in a restaurant where Lambert and Julie are holding an anniversary party. The wine is flowing and the talk gets ever more ribald between the revellers, drawing the attention of the pair on the next table, Suki and Russell. As it turns out, Lambert has some history with Suki and in typical Pinter style, the unspoken gestures are as vital as the words.

In the second half, the mood darkened as director Douglas Higgins dominated the stage as manipulative interrogator Nicholas in One for the Road. The family he has taken captive, Victor, Gila and their son Nicky simply serve as dramatic foils for Nicholas' systematic exercise in torture.

Despite this really being a one-man show for the actor playing Nicholas, it is the restraint shown by the other players that gives the performance its edge. Lucie Edwards excelled as the abused Gila and Angus Pope delivered just enough frailty to carry off the role of the trusting young boy, Nicky.

Stephen Wells as Victor, the physically and mentally broken father, was virtually unrecognisable as the person who played lairy Lambert in Celebration, where he was expertly paired with Ro Linton as drunken wife Julie. Operatic soprano Sue Reynolds also did well in her first non-singing role as the saucy ex-secretary Suki.

However, it was Chris Hicks as the interjecting waiter who completely stole the show on the night. Apparently it's been 11 years since he last trod the boards. I sincerely hope we don't have to wait another 11 years to see this talented actor in action again.

Melanie Dakin

Until Saturday, May 31