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1957: Cuckfield features in hilarious Pinter play

In 'Victoria Station' a hilarious short play by Harold Pinter, one of his first, which was published in 1957 revolves around a tax controller begging a taxi driver to go to Victoria Station to pick up a customer who wants to be driven to Cuckfield; and the driver doggedly ignoring this request. The controller becomes increasingly desperate making growing threats including:

'Drop your passenger. Drop your passenger at his chosen destination and proceed to Victoria Station. Otherwise I'll destroy you bone by bone. I'll suck you in and blow you out in little bubbles. I'll chew your stomach out with my own teeth. I'll eat all the hair off your body. You'll end up looking like a pipe cleaner? Get me?'

It was first performed at the National Theatre, London, on 14 October 1982. The performers were Paul Rogers as the Controller and Martin Jarvis as the Driver. The play, which only lasts 10 minutes, takes us back to the eery world, full of jokiness, created at the beginning of Pinter's career, when he wrote revue sketches for Kenneth Williams in shows like 'Pieces of Eight'.

In the last section of Victoria Station, Pinter gives an unexpected twist. When the driver asks the controller: 'Can I tell you a secret?', the confidence takes us by surprise: 'I think. I’ve fallen in love. For the first time in my life.'

Our bewilderment is not only due to the fact that we could never have imagined that this driver could conceive such romantic feelings, but also because we had not suspected that that stony and aloof man might be the subject of such a great passion: '[I’ve fallen in love] with this girl on the back seat. I think I’m going to keep her for the rest of my life. I’m going to stay in this car with her for the rest of my life. I’m going to marry her in this car. We’ll die together in this car.'


Wikipedia entry for Victoria Station:

'A Visit To Three New/Old Pinteresque ‘Other Places’ by Pilar Zozaya Ariztia, sourced in from an article in 'Atlantis' Vol. 9, No. 1/2 (junio-noviembre 1987), pp. 53-61 (9 pages)

Published by: AEDEAN: Asociación española de estudios anglo-americanos

Photo from Wikimedia.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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