A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions
 
 
 
 
Ashes to Ashes

“Ashes to Ashes” (1996) is the longer work on the double bill and here the horrors of war are no less effective because they are described.  We are in a conventional living room with Rebecca (Anastasia Hille) and her husband Devlin (Neil Dudgeon), who is interrogating her about a former lover.  As her dream-like recollections take shape, piecemeal, the affair she recounts seems to be as conventional as the setting, except for touches of brutality in lovemaking.  Then there is a shocking revelation, that this man “used to go to the local railway station and walk down the platform and tear all the babies from the arms of their screaming mothers.”  When we learn that he also commanded a factory of slave workers, fascist terror takes shape in a series of verbal images.  Finally, Rebecca identifies with a mother fleeing the Nazis, and giving up her baby.  Under the expert direction of Katie Mitchell, the actors brilliantly interpret Pinter’s nuances, inflections, and silences that reveal as much about the characters as does the content of their speeches.  In an atmosphere of increasing tension, Ms. Hille changes from dreamy to assertive to guilt ridden, while Mr. Dudgeon reveals Devlin’s instability, pain, and finally, cruelty. 

Then there is a shocking revelation, that this man “used to go to the local railway station and walk down the platform and tear all the babies from the arms of their screaming mothers.”  When we learn that he also commanded a factory of slave workers, fascist terror takes shape in a series of images .  Finally, Rebecca identifies with a mother fleeing the Nazis and giving up her baby.  Under the expert direction of Ms. Mitchell, the actors brilliantly interpret Pinter’s nuances, inflections, and silences that reveal as much about the characters as does the content of their speeches.  In an atmosphere of increasing tension, Ms. Hille changes from dreamy to assertive to guilt ridden, while Mr. Dudgeon reveals Devlin’s instability, pain, and finally, cruelty.