Peter Clements Leads Us to Another Article on Pinter/PROUST: The Paris Review Blog

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The Cast including Di Trevis speaking with Richard Armitage on the sofa, Annabel Capper standing, talking to Natalie Turner-Jones, and Laura Hillier and Kersti Bryan, in the foreground.

Thanks to Micra for bringing to my attention this article on the Pinter/PROUST reading  here. The article was linked to a photo on Peter Clement’s (Marcel) Instagram, found through Tossed Around  on  tumblr,

The article explores the similarity in themes between Pinter and Proust and is nicely written.

“Helmed by the same director from the National’s production, the 92Y’s reading was directed by Di Trevis, who collaborated with Pinter to stage his screenplay. Performed by a cast of fourteen—led by Peter Clements, a dead ringer for Proust—the crowded event felt like a staged reading in name only; fully blocked out with lighting cues, set pieces, and props, the presence of the actors’ scripts was the only sign that this wasn’t a complete production.”

11 thoughts on “Peter Clements Leads Us to Another Article on Pinter/PROUST: The Paris Review Blog

  1. That was an interesting read- it acknowledges the difficulties in transforming the Proust works into a screenplay, all the reasons why Pinter could have been the wrong man for the job, and details why the author sees him as a good fit. It also accepts that audience reactions to the staged reading are very personal- not inherently right or wrong. Not an easy piece of theatre to love, perhaps, but worth the effort.

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  2. Katherine, I like that about the article as well, in regards to his acknowledgement of audience reaction. But it really feels more like a review on the work as an adaptation, and not much of a critique on the realization of the work on stage. And there is nothing really said in regards to the actors and their characterizations. It is really well written though.

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    • I concur, crystalchandlyre–re the reviewer’s critique of Pinter’s “Cliff Notes” approach to Proust and the reviewer needing to speed home to his inhaler and his own copy of PROUST. LOL!

      This is a telling excerpt:
      “At first glance, a writer [Pinter] known for menacing silences, clipped phrases, and testosterone-fueled brutality—all of it rife with ambiguity—hardly seems the obvious candidate to adapt Proust. When I think of Proust, I think of long and mellifluous sentences, lush, discursive scenes, and linguistic precision—all of which are at odds with a playwright [Proust] who is perhaps best known for his use of the pause.”

      With that level of frankness, perhaps we should be glad that he didn’t focus on the actors–other than to say that the actor (Peter Clements) playing Proust was a dead ringer for him.

      Of course, with this being a one off performance, any review will not affect future audiences–because at this point, there are no future performances scheduled. Though a possible limited Broadway run was hinted at.

      So, what is the point of the reviewer saying that he likes “real” Proust better than Pinter/PROUST? Personal preference? Elitism? Lack of oxygen? (He did mention that inhaler.) I have no clue. So I’m asking. Besides, it’s fun to speculate. Ha!

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      • I think the reviewer returning home and opening the original source of material – Proust’s own books – is his way of saying that he prefers the original over the “cliff notes” version by Pinter. And if you’ve read Proust’s books, then went to Pinter, you’ll kinda understand why Proust purists will take the books over the adaptation any day – Proust is a personal experience, and one that is so difficult to put down in words and have many people agree with you all at once, because it deals with memory, which is highly subjective. Pinter also only takes in the first and last books of the 7-volumes for the adaptation, disregarding the 5 books in between.

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        • True, and Pinter plays/scripts push the envelope of timeline referencing for his adaptations. For some, Pinter is an “acquired” taste. Ha! For others, he breathes new life into the theatrical/filmic conventions of storytelling, character development, and such. ‘m somewhere in the middle about Pinter. Ha!

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        • Won’t purists always take the original over an adaptation, especially one that makes no attempt to reproduce the original?? I think the reviewer understood that The Screenplay could never replace the novel and acknowledged that Pinter’s screenplay referenced Pinter’s personal take on Proust. The part of the review that addresses the screenplay as a discrete work with less emphasis on comparing the two works, while successfully comparing the two writers, was favorable, I thought. Pinter didn’t ignore the middle books entirely. There are scenes from at least 5 books in the Screenplay – so a taste of everything. But if one fact has jumped out at me from reading about Proust without reading all 7 books, it is that people love to disagree about it.

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          • Well, it was a reading after all, not a fully staged play so it’s not going to engage a lot of people favorably from the get go, purists or not. Worse if you have no clue about Proust’s work or Pinter’s style.

            I think the reviewer in this case chose the middle ground, just like the other one that you linked to previously. He wasn’t particularly impressed by the reading to the point of saying something completely positive about the reading per se, but it did send him back to the original work. I can’t really say much about whether it’s a positive or negative review because I never saw the reading at all. But as someone who would read it to see if the reading was something I’d like to see or consider seeing (if the reading, let’s say, had some limited run), I wouldn’t be rushing out my door to go and see it.

            As for disagreeing – a lot of people do that about everything to the point that we’re often relegated to just talking about the weather to avoid any disagreement (and even the weather can produce disagreements) – or not saying or writing anything at all.

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            • About disagreeing, yes of course people disagree about everything, but with Proust, because there is so much in it – besides the memory and time aspect, because he talks about so many topics in his almost 4,000 pages, society, the politics the meaning and necessity of art,art as a metaphor for life, love, relationships, class, family, homosexuality and on and on, I found that aside from the memory theme, which everyone agrees on, different people see different themes in the work. Usually, in a more manageable work, the theme is pretty clear.

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            • And to add,I most certainly agree that anyone reading this or the other review would not be braking down box office doors to see the reading – or even a full production *unless* the cast was the draw.

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