Johan Persson

The Birthday Party struggles to serve anything greater than a small and rather bizarre narrative.

From bizarre blowing to fighting in the dark and even party games that go wrong, we were left frightfully confused as we sat clinging to our seats waiting for the penny to drop and the reason for all this nonsense to make sense… but sadly it never came.

Working tirelessly all night, this all-star set up of actors push and pull to make The Birthday Party work, and almost do as Toby Jones fires to the rescue in act two – almost forgiving the disappointing narrative presented in the first.

Zoë Wanamaker is, as expected, a delight and does bring a much-needed lift of humour throughout – although her innocence is piercingly sad come the second half. Stephen Mangan and Pearl Mackie push ahead and also find pockets of equal brilliance in a somewhat challenging script.

Maybe it’s a piece just hasn’t moved with the times but The Birthday Party left us wondering what the point was. With storylines left unfinished and a horrid view of women being there to serve a man, its cast looked exhausted come curtain call as this classic Harold Pinter piece stumbles across the finish line.

Ian Rickson’s production isn’t bad and collectively have brought together a night at the theatre that’s almost enjoyable, but sadly this isn’t a party we’d like to attend again.

Gay Times gives The Birthday Party  – ★★

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Words Liam Smith

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