Pinter's plays written in the late 1950s and in the 1960s such as The Room (1957), The Birthday Party (1958), The Caretaker (1960) are influenced by the theatre of the absurd and by Pinter's reading of Kafka and Beckett. Although the working-class settings are recreated with an apparent attetion to details, Pinter's plays from these two decades are not naturalistic. Their purpose is to comment on the absurdity of human lives and on the alienation of modern man, caught in his inability to achieve meaningful communications with his fellow human beings. These are sometimes grouped as "menace comedies" as the existence of the main characters is threatened by some entity or person outside their group.
Pinter's production of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s such as One for the Road (1984), Mountain Language (1988), Ashes to Ashes (1996) are more overtly political and reflect the playwright's growing militancy.