Pinter ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My review of the MTC production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party was in yesterday's Australian. Lots more to think about, and I hope I get a chance to do so (time is in short supply in Ms TN's world): on the one hand, how liberating to see these excellent Indigenous actors on the MTC stage; on the other, how disappointing that their talents are not fully exploited. It's an intelligent production that soft-pedals the underlying violence and terror of the play. I see that Captain's B'log has no such reservations: but he has uploaded a clip from the original film, which shows how absurdity and menace can run together in the same breath. My god, that Patrick Magee was something, eh?


Seamus said...

Allison, I don't want to sound like a total fanboy, but I have to say I find your reviews just so insightful and thoughtful. I hope you have the time to write a more extended response to The Birthday Party. I saw it tonight, and am unfamiliar with Pinter's work. For me the play eluded any obvious interpretation, but was by far the MTC production that has interested me the most this year. Despite the often abstract conversations and characterisation, there was a sort of authenticity and realism to the characters' power relations, underpinned by the potential for violence and sexuality, as you say. I have to agree with you, too, that if this threat was brought into the most innocent moments of levity, just as humour was brought into even the darkest moments, the tension the play builds could have been achieved even more impressively.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Seamus - I have no objection to fanboys! And I'm glad that you liked Pinter - he is well worth checking out. There is a longer meditation on this production here. There's also a more indepth discussion of the play itself in another production here.