Birthday party head

Declan Rodgers as McCann and Jonathon Ashley as Goldberg

The Birthday Party

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

***

One should consider carefully before accepting the invitation to this particular birthday party.

This is no jelly and ice cream beano! Pinter is very much a Marmite dramatist and this play, written in 1957 conjoins moments of comedy with uncomfortable scenes of sheer terror.

It is a dark, sinister piece of theatre. Thought provoking to the extreme. Never before been involved in an interesting discussion post play in the toilets, but this was the scenario last night at the Belgrade!

Opinions varied greatly but the overriding feelings voiced were of confusion, uneasiness and threatening tension.

The action begins in the sparse, shabby, sea side boarding house lounge of Meg, (Cheryl Kennedy) and Petey, (Ged McKenna) as they have breakfast. The banal dialogue of their mundane lives gives no suggestions of the emotional turmoil that will unfold throughout the ensuing three acts.

 

Joined by Stanley, the lodger, (Gareth Bennett Ryan) we are given a taster of a mysterious, troubled young man who relishes his somewhat private, reclusive existence but the arrival of two more 'gentleman' paying guests, Goldberg, (Johnathan Ashley) and McCann, (Declan Rodgers) turn his world into a descending spiral of fear, violence, sexual menace and mental abuse. Words are used as weapons of torture but the playwright gives only subtle hints as to the meaning of this disturbing drama.

The strong cast, was completed with Imogen Wilde as Lulu, the pretty naïveté drawn into the sticky web of horror at the sleazy hands of the evil, overtly sexual Goldberg. With excellent acting, and good characterisation from the players, this isn't a piece of theatre that will appeal to everyone but, fans of Pinter's unique style of writing may appreciate this classic which may have provoked similar feelings when it was first presented on the London stage in the late 1950's. Unsurprisingly, it only ran for 6 performances!

Pinter may be regarded as a highly influential voice of his generation but his astonishing ground breaking writing is an acquired . . . just like the Marmite eh?

An uncomfortable experience at a not very happy birthday. (don't expect a party bag full of goodies!)  Directed by Michael Cabot the party continues to 18-06-16

Rosemary Manjunath/Elizabeth Smith

14-06-16 

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