With the death last week of British playwright Harold Pinter the world of theatre has lost both a fearless and forthright voice and a unique and singular artist. He ranks as one of the finest, if not the finest, playwright of the second half of the 20th Century.
Pinter as a playwright possessed a genuine and enduring talent, while as an individual he had the courage of his sincerely held convictions and wasn't in the least bit afraid of expressing these. In reality, these two aspects of his life and personality were inseparable.
It is the role of the artist in society not to be popular but to be both an observer and a voice and reflect aspects, good and bad, of this same society and Pinter, more than most, knew this and his work reflected this. His work right from the early plays such as 'The Caretaker' and 'The Birthday Party', right up to more recent works such as 'Betrayal' were all overtly political and reflected his recurring theme of power, in the sense of the balance of power between competing personalities and the abuse of this same power.
The political nature of Pinter's work was its most immediate and defining characteristic and his loathing of Western imperialism, in particular American imperialism, informed and infused both his work and public utterances. He repeatedly condemned British and US military aggression, right up to the 2003 Iraq invasion which he described as "an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for international law".
It has become a cliche to say this upon the death of a person of note, but in Pinter's case it is true, the world will be a poorer place without both his honest and frank voice and his exemplary capacity as an artist.
KENILWORTH PARK, DUBLIN 6W