Inside this week | Pinter over plates anyday

I tend to quite like photography exhibitions, as long as the subjects aren’t preened and cleaned and looking directly into the screen. So having initially been quite intrigued by The people behind the plate , an exhibition of photos of people who work in public kitchens, I’ve been left a little bit disappointed.

I guess I was looking for some sort of throwback, something that would take me back in time to the era when dinner ladies had stubble, served you with a fag poking out of their mouth and came into work smelling of the same chip fat they’d tried to wash off the night before.

Instead these people look too happy, like they’ve been sanitised by Jamie Oliver. Most of them serve organic food, we’re told. Well done, have a medal, but at a photo exhibition I want to be taken to places I wouldn’t normally go, not the backend of a Subway.

Thank God for Harold Pinter. One evening in his presence is enough to wash off all the clinical cleanliness and feel-good claptrap. He keeps it real: we’re all scum and given the chance we’d wear the other boot if it fit.

Ian Burns’s decision to put on Old Times this autumn, five years after his double bill of The Dumb Waiter and The Lover, is only bettered by the one to join forces with Sue Hansen-Styles and Angela Heath-Larsen of Why Not Theatre company. On the scene for several years now, they intelligently cater to niche audiences and this has led to recognition outside the English-language media (pretty much us, I guess). Vita & Virginia, their production of a lesbian love affair involving Virginia Woolf, won rave reviews last year from the Danish media, something that quite often eludes Burns due to a perception that his choices tend to be too traditional.

We prefer classic, but then again, what do you expect from theatre critics – pretentiousness comes with the profession. Still, it will be interesting to see if the girls’ street-cred makes the difference. It’s about time this city stood up and paid attention to the sterling efforts of Burns, particularly when you consider he’s won awards for his services to Swedish theatre!

Yeah, give me Pinter over The people behind the plate anytime. I want to feel alive, not dead inside.