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Although Harold Pinter’s second play ran for just eight performances when it premiered in 1958, this deliberately ambiguous comedy of menace has been successfully revived and well received in the decades since then. The current 60th anniversary production, skilfully directed by Ian Rickson (and playing in the theatre named after the late playwright himself) has much to recommend it – not least a sterling cast.

Sixty something Meg runs a faded seaside boarding house with her deckchair attendant husband Petey, serving up cornflakes and fried bread for breakfast and flirting shamelessly with their solitary long-term guest – the disgruntled, shambolic Stanley who may or may not once have had a career as a concert pianist. Their uneventful lives are thoroughly shaken up by the arrival of two men in suits who, for reasons which are never disclosed, are after the petrified yet - in Toby Jones’s convincing performance - defiant Stanley.

Ditching her pinafore, Zoe Wanamaker’s Meg throws herself into the party spirit, as does their younger neighbour Lulu (Pearl Mackie) whose ripped stockings are disturbing proof that sex with a stranger can be more violation than fun. Peter Wight’s solid Petey reveals a helpless paternal concern for the lodger who has taken the place of the son the regretfully childless couple never had.

And, as the thuggish interlopers, Stephen Mangan’s slick Goldberg radiates false bonhomie mixed with the threat of underlying violence, whilst his Irish sidekick (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor’s McCann) steadies his nerves - and temporarily keeps his specs-snapping temper under control - by meticulously tearing a newspaper into strips in a nuanced production which highlights both the absurd and the comedy in Pinter’s writing.

Harold Pinter, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN

Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Until 14th April 2018 

Tickets :-£15.00 - £72.500 + Premium Seats

www.thebirthdayparty.london

 


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Theatre Review: The Birthday Party
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