Page last updated at 00:32 GMT, Saturday, 27 December 2008

West End pays tribute to Pinter


Sir Michael Gambon pays tribute to Harold Pinter

Actors starring in Harold Pinter's No Man's Land in London's West End have paid tribute on stage to the playwright, who died on Christmas Eve.

It was the first Pinter play to be performed since his death from cancer.

After a sell-out at the Duke of York theatre, actor David Bradley told the audience the world had lost "one of the greatest literary figures of all time".

Sir Michael Gambon also read a passage from the play which Pinter had asked him to read out at his funeral.

He performed the speech to a silent audience, many of whom wept as he read aloud.

As long as we have actors and theatre, he will be performed forever
David Bradley

The excerpt concluded: "And so I say to you, tender the dead as you would yourself be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life."

Pinter, a Nobel Prize winner and writer of more than 30 plays, including The Caretaker and The Birthday Party, died aged 78 after a battle with colon cancer.

The production of No Man's Land, also starring David Walliams, has received critical acclaim.

After the show, his co-star Bradley said on stage: "I speak on behalf of actors all over the world who have had the pleasure of working with Harold Pinter.

"We have lost one of the greatest literary figures of all time. His loss is monumental and his influence cannot be calculated.

Harold Pinter
Many of Pinter's plays are considered to be classics
"He is often associated with menace and the dark side but could also be very funny and moving.

"His last note to this cast was 'keep it light, fast and don't forget the laughs'.

"As long as we have actors and theatre, he will be performed forever."

Fellow actors have been paying tribute to Pinter, who was also an actor, poet, screenwriter and director, and known for his left-wing political views and campaigning on human rights issues.

Former actress Glenda Jackson, who went on to become an MP, said his death was "a great loss not only to the theatre but... also a great loss to people who fight for human rights".

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