Drawing: Toby Jones, Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan, Pearl Mackie, Peter Wight and Tom Vaughn-Lawlor in The Birthday Party

Autographed drawing of Toby Jones, Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan, Pearl Mackie, Peter Wight and Tom Vaughn-Lawlor in The Birthday Party at the Harold Pinter Theatre on London's West End

Many happy returns to Harold Pinter’s ‘comedy of menace’, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY as the starry West End revival opened last month. The play turns 60 this year and to celebrate at the theatre that is bearing the playwrights name, Sonia Freedman and seasoned Pinter-director Ian Rickson have assembled a wonderful cast for this British classic.

Famously savaged by all but the Sunday Times after the legendary London premiere in 1958, it has now grown to become one of Pinter’s most famous and most performed works. It’s a disturbing portrait of life in a run-down seaside boarding house on the southern English coast where piano-player Stanley Webber (Toby Jones) lives, run by Meg (Zoe Wanamaker) and Petey (Peter Wight) Boles, who arrange a party to celebrate their lodger’s birthday. The flirtatious Lulu, target of Stanley’s lust (Pearl Mackie) joins them, followed by two sinister strangers, Goldberg (Stephen Managan) and McCann (Tom Vaughn-Lawlor).

Critic Dominic Cavandish, in his five-star Telegraph review “rejoices in the play’s undiminished power to disconcert.” It has all the Pinteresque elements, ambitious identity, confusions of time and place and dark political symbolism.

I left my sketch with Toby at the Pinter stage door on Saturday and he along with the rest of the cast very kindly signed it for me.

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Drawing: Pearl Mackie

Pearl Mackie

A month ago to the day Pearl Mackie was revealed as the Doctor’s next companion in the BBC cult sci-fi television programme DR WHO. It was announced during the half time interval of the FA Cup semi-final.

The current and twelfth incarnation of the Doctor, Peter Capaldi described Pearl as “a fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, who will be a refreshing addition to the TARDIS.”

The Brixton-born, Bristol-educated actress, singer and dancer, graduated from the Old Vic Theatre School in 2010 and has packed in a lot since then, including films, TV and a dozen stage productions. She played Anne-Marie Fraser in the medical soap DOCTORS (must be something magnetic in that word) and is currently appearing at the Gielgud in the Olivier and Tony Award winning play THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME in London’s West End until next month.

As you can imagine since the DR WHO announcement, interest in Pearl has magnified, attracting a few more punters at the Gielgud stage door, including moi with this sketch, which she signed and dedicated for me with plenty of ‘zest and charm.’