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The Wednesday Play: In Camera (BBC Drama, Harold Pinter)

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The Wednesday Play

Original Publicity: Tonight’s Play – In Camera: “Hell,” says Jean-Paul Sartre, “is other people”, and in tonight’s play he sets out to demonstrate this hypothesis. In Camera is a story of three individuals newly dispatched to Hell, utterly dissimilar and united only in their condemnation.

Garcin (Harold Pinter) is a braggart who died before a firing squad for cowardice in Algeria; Estelle (Catherine Woodville) is a faithless slut who killed her adulterous child to avoid detection by her rich and elderly husband; and Inez (Jane Arden) is a Lesbian who wrecked her cousin’s life by seducing his wife. Once in Hell – seen as a room with no windows, with bright lights but no switches, and with just three sofas – the trio start working out their everlasting punishment.

Since Sartre is the father of modern existentialism, believing that “You are your life – and nothing else,” this punishment is simple and utterly hellish. They become each other’s tormentors, endlessly going over their lives, masochistically pleading for retribution only to receive sadistic refusals. There is no salvation, either through themselves or through their companions.

As Joseph Garcin, the boasting sham-hero, the distinguished playwright Harold Pinter makes a rare return to his original profession of actor. He has previously worked with Philip Saville, the man who directs tonight’s In Camera, when he appeared in his own play, A Night Out. Mister Saville, who handled the ambitious Hamlet At Elsinore, is one of the most perceptive explorers of the television medium, and he experiments with lighting and camera effects to heighten the play’s pitiless mood. The cast is completed by one of the brightest talents in the theatre, Jane Arden, as the devouring Inez, Catherine Woodville as the selfish Estelle, and Jonathan Hansen as the valet. Peter Luke is the producer. (Radio Times, October 29, 1964).

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 1 Episode 2

Cast: Harold Pinter (Garcin), Jane Arden (Inez), Catherine Woodville (Estelle), Jonathan Hansen (Valet)

Writer: Philip Saville / Book: Jean-Paul Sartre (Translation by Stuart Gilbert) / Producer: Peter Luke / Director: Philip Saville

UK / BBC One / 1×85 minute episode / Broadcast 4th November 1964