The Birthday Party
Directed by Julie Fuad
The Birthday Party was first performed in 1958 and was panned by every critic except Harold Hobson of the Sunday Times, who alone recognized it as something different and exciting.
It was not until it re-emerged several years later that it was fully appreciated as an important development in modern theatre.
Since the, of course, Pinter has become a byword – not only in theatre but in radio and script-writing. What made him so different in the 50s was his non-appliance of all the conventional rules of theatre.
Audiences, at first baffled by characters who never explained their motives and who perhaps never spoke a word of truth, gradually accepted that direct facts were no longer indispensible.
The Birthday Party fits into Pinter’s early period of ‘comedy of menace’.
On a realistic level the plot is fairly obvious. Two sinister men arrive at a seedy seaside boarding house in search of Stanley, who has somehow betrayed them. They seek retribution and plan it by means of a birthday party. Petey is a helpless bystander, Meg distorts the truth to fit her own fantasies, Lulu shows up Goldberg’s fluent bonhomie to be as false as his remembered Sunday dinners and Stanley is ‘suitably’ dealt with.
On a symbolic level? That’s up to you! Pinter himself says “I wouldn’t know a symbol if I fell over one…” but the Party is a regular treasure trove of them if you care to hunt.
Otherwise you can accept it on Pinter’s own terms. “A play has no duty to justify itself in any terms other than its own”.
Petey: Tony McKittrick
Meg: Aline Christenson
Stanley: Alex Read
Goldberg: John Burkey
McCann: John Briggs
Lulu: Melanie Oppenheimer
Director: Julie Fuad
Stage Manager/Prompt Book: Jeane Upjohn
Properties: Marie Willick
Costumes: Enid Isaacs
Lighting Design: Harry Wadleigh
Lighting Operation: Suszanne Thwaites, Chris Brodbeck
Set Design: Lenore Crocker
Set Construction: George Wray
Publicity: Bronwyn Morrison
Front of House: Bronwyn Morrison
The Old Barn, Ken Jones, Armidale City Council, ABC Radio, 2ARM FM, Ron Alexander