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‘The Artist is the Hero of the Story’: Harold Pinter's Moonlight as a Case Study in Reception

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 July 2013


The first major posthumous London revival of a play by Harold Pinter was Moonlight at the Donmar Warehouse in April 2011. There was a striking difference between the critical reception of this production and the way the play had been greeted on its 1993 premiere, when Moonlight – then framed as Pinter's return after fifteen fallow years and a number of increasingly controversial political interventions – prompted an extremely mixed response. In 2011, by contrast, the critical community was more or less united. This progression can be seen to illustrate more than just the benefits of hindsight, and in this article Harry Derbyshire considers responses to Moonlight in 1993 and 2011 as a means of illuminating the range of competing interests that underlie the journalistic and academic infrastructure within which the merits of cultural products are assessed. He also considers the emotional investment commentators often have in the triumphs and reversals of those they follow on the public and cultural stage. Harry Derbyshire's doctorate, on ‘Harold Pinter: Production, Reception, Reputation 1984–1999’, is from King's College London, and he currently lectures in Drama and English at the University of Greenwich. Publications include articles on Roy Williams, on human rights and verbatim theatre, and on the Reminiscence Theatre Archive of Pam Schweitzer, recently acquired by Greenwich.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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