He wasn't much on plot, and his set designs almost always revolved around simple, extremely closed spaces, but that was the point. All that austerity left room for his trademark verbal assaults, which made Harold Pinter the most noted British playwright of his generation and, later, gave credence to his vehemence against the war in Iraq. His 29 plays, including The Birthday Party and The Homecoming, relentlessly tore at the niceties that shrouded family and social relationships—and the Bank of Sweden liked his work so much it gave him the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature. He leveraged the award against his deeply antiwar politics, calling the U.S. invasion of Iraq “an act of blatant state terrorism” and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair a “deluded idiot” for his complicity. Pinter died in London on Wednesday, Dec. 24, at 78 following a long battle with cancer—and once yet again, Blair and President Bush are off the hook.
* Xanadu: Clio descends from the heavens to help Sonny spearhead the greatest invention of all time: the roller disco. Through Dec. 31 at La Jolla Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre, 2910 La Jolla Village Blvd. in La Jolla. $42-$75. 619-550-1010, www.lajollaplayhouse.org.