The world premiere was in Frankfurt as Der Stumme Diener in February 1959 with Rudolf H. Krieg as Ben and Werner Berndt as Gus.
The first performance in London was in January 1960, as part of a double bill with Pinter’s first play The Room, at the Hampstead Theatre Club, directed by James Roose-Evans, with Nicholas Selby as Ben and George Tovey as Gus. The production transferred to the Royal Court Theatre in March 1960.
The most recent performance was this year 2013 and also in London. The Print Room featuring a revival of this brilliant play directed by Jamie Glover and starring Clive Wood in the role of Ben and Joe Armstrong as Gus.
I am one of the lucky ones who saw this play last November on its last day of representation. The Print Room Theatre is a small space that forces an intimacy between actors and audience, something that makes you enjoy even more of this play. An old basement room, two beds, an old dumbwaiter and two hitmen waiting for their assignment complete the picture. Ben (Clive Wood) is the older of the two men and waits patiently reading the newspaper. Gus (Joe Armstrong) is the young and restless who will not stop asking questions that end up wasting your companion papers. A dumbwaiter starts working suddenly ordering food and ends up unhinge both characters.
I’m totally agree with a descripction I read about this play: “In the theatre, the emotional power of the play is more readily felt than understood.” In this case it is even more emotional thanks to the extraordinary performances of the two actors. Each one brilliant in their role, they execute with absolute perfection dialogues, sometimes absurd, between the two characters, they operate easily into the haunting silences and situations in which they are involved. A delight for lovers of pure and close theater, a play which do not diminish his greatness despite the passage of time and actors who get that we love the theatre even more thanks to their talent.
Here is the great trailer: