If Pinter’s plays are meant to be interpretable, it is interesting that he did not include an explanatory note in The Dumb Waiter. Pinter’s plays, especially The Caretaker, Homecoming and The Homecoming were extensively analyzed by critics, which is why they are sometimes called “the great trilogy”. One of the most frequent interpretations of The Dumb Waiter is that the title character is a stand-in for the director. This also seems relevant in the case of The Caretaker and Homecoming, both of which are about the inability of the playwright to control his work, causing chaos in the theatre, with disastrous results.
After The Homecoming Pinter worked on The London Connection, which was never staged, and then The Homecoming. However, it was not until 1979, after The Homecoming, that he “released” himself from the theatre. The 1981 production of The Homecoming at the Royal Court was a critical and financial success, as was the 1983 production at the Royal Shakespeare Company. However, the success of The Homecoming did not go to Pinter’s head, and he is reported to have said that he never wanted to direct again. Pinter did, however, direct The Hotel in 1984, which was his last directing job. His next play, Betrayal, premiered in 1985, but this was also Pinter’s last theatrical production.
Pinter’s first play The Homecoming premiered at the Royal Court in 1966. The play was well received, but not a great success in London, where it was performed for only fifteen performances. The Homecoming was subsequently produced by the Royal National Theatre, where it was performed nine times between 1967 and 1969. The play was revived in 1983 by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which re-christened it That Lady. The 2007 American premiere was produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
It is not clear why Ben is so obedient to a higher authority, but in the play, it makes more sense to explain it as a flaw in Ben's character than to accept it as a flaw in Pinter's play. At the beginning of the play, Ben is clearly upset and even exasperated by the orders and demands of Gus. When these orders cease, he loses his anger and becomes passive, perhaps too passive.
When Ben finally fires his weapon, it is clearly not meant as a defensive action against Gus, but rather as an act of killing. Pinter has clearly made this point that the action is not an act of self-defense but rather Ben's act of obedience is his obedience to the order to eliminate his partner. Ben is not just obeying an order from Gus but he is obeying an order from higher authority. Gus is not just a middle manager, he is the rank and file soldier in the army of the bureaucracy that rules the world.
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