Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Birthday Party

When I booked for Titus Andronicus, I thought I might want a bit of light relief afterwards, so booked a ticket for Harold Pinter's  The Birthday Party, on the basis that it is billed as a comedy, and that it has an interesting cast, including Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan, Toby Young and Pearl Mackie.

It's a very weird play. It starts off in a fairly straightforward way; we see Petey (Peter Wight) and Meg (Zoe Wanamaker), an older couple, running their home as a boarding house, run down and (as we learn) with only a single guest (Stanley - Toby Jones, of whom Meg is extremely fond). Petey works as a deck chair assistant, Meg (inefficiently) looks after the house, and Stanley has't worked for a while.

Meg is planning a birthday party for Stanley, and has arranged for her neighbour, Lulu (Pearl MacKie) to buy him a gift on her behalf.

Things then get much stranger, as two men, Goldberg (Stephen Mangan) and McCann (Tom Vaughan-Lawler) show up, allegedly looking for a room for a night or two, after which things start to get weirder. 

Goldberg and McCann are there for Stanley, but it isn't ever clear why, or where they are from. At first, it seems as though they might have been involved in crimes together, then perhaps that they are there in a more official capacity.. having seen 'The Hot House' a couple of years ago, I can't help but wonder whether that is where they were going to take him...

Stephen Mangan was unrecognisable, and very intimidating, and Tom Vaghan-Lawler manager to be somehow both vulnerable and scary. I would have liked to have seen more of Pearl Mackie's acting sills, but the role didn't offer much scope for her.

So, weird, but well presented weird!

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