It turns out it is entirely possible to have no idea what a play is about, while at the same time being absolutely certain the performances are spot on.
As it happens, this apparent contradiction in terms sits well with a Harold Pinter play, as confusions and changing stories are all part of the script.
Wick Theatre Company proved right in its brave decision to perform The Birthday Party at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week as the seats were virtually sold out.
Director Graham Till made it clear in advance that it was a bit of a risk, as many people find Pinter impenetrable.
But those who did fill the seats had nothing but good to say about the excellent performances, so his choice of play proved a good one.
I have to say I was a little distracted by the fact Phil Brown, as Stanley, had been made up to look so like Pinter himself, and indeed his character was not in some ways dissimilar to the cantankerous playwright – a man I did actually meet.
Perhaps it is a sign that the whole work tells of Pinter’s feeling of oppression in his own life?
Certainly, it seems reasonable to suggest that although David Peaty had the smallest and most straightforward part as Petey, he also had one of the most important lines – ‘don’t let them tell you what to do!’.
Pam Luxton was simply marvellous as the landlady Meg. She had the timing of her stilted lines just perfect – something quite difficult to do as they are not said or paced in the way people would normally speak.
Equally well timed were the dramatic interrogations of Stanley by the two sinister visitors, Goldberg, played by Dan Dryer, and, McCann, played by David Creedon.
It is said that in a Pinter play, the way the words are spoken are as important as the words themselves, and with these two characters there were a couple of times where their lines bounced around beautifully, rather like music.
Creedon even gave us a taste of his beautiful voice, singing the Irish song Come Back Paddy Reilly.
Completing the cast was Emily Hale, making her debut with the Wick as Lulu. She played it with passion and we were left feeling sympathy for Lulu, despite her flirtatious behaviour and not quite knowing what had happened to her in the darkness at the end of Act Two.
Final applause to the team that designed the striking set.
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