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.
Back in the summer of 2012, Stephen Mangan and Lisa Dillon starred in Joe Penhall’s BIRTHDAY at the Royal Court in London. Lisa played Lisa and Stephen was Ed, a thirty-something couple with fertility problems who reverse roles and take advantage of a new procedure that allows him to give birth to their second child.
I drew this sketch, but didn’t get a chance to get it signed at the time.I managed to catch-up with Stephen when he appeared in JEEVES & WOOSTER at the Duke of York’s a year later and posted it here. This week I completed the mission when Lisa also ‘graphed it for me at the Theatre Royal Haymarket where she is featuring in the Shakespeare double-Bill (sorry), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST. So here it is again.
Jeeves and Wooster – Perfect Nonsense is the first ever stage play adapted from the works of PG Wodehouse. Directed by Sean Foley and written by brothers David and Robert Goodale, based on “Plum’s” 1938 novel The Code of the Woosters.
The show had pre West End dates at the Richmond Theatre and Theatre Royal, Brighton before beginning previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London in October 2013, officially opening on the 12 November. Originally scheduled to run until March 2014, it has now been extended until September due to popular demand.
Stephen Mangan is the effervescent, aristocratic Bertie Wooster and Matthew Macfadyen is his dutiful and imperturbable Jeeves… when he’s not impersonating a number of other characters such as old buffer Sir Watkyn Bassett, the myopic Gussie Fink-Nottle and the feminine Stiffy Bying. They are joined by Mark Hadfield as Seppings… when he’s not playing the imposing Aunt Dahlia or the incipient dictator Roderick Spode.
The trio signed my sketch this week at the theatre.