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The Birthday Party

By Harold Pinter

Royal Exchange Theatre, 10 June 2013

Desmond Barrit as Goldberg in THE BIRTHDAY PARTY by Harold Pinter. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Desmond Barrit as Goldberg in THE BIRTHDAY PARTY. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Despite being early Pinter, you can here see in embryo all the elements that made him the premiere playwright of his generation.

Take the continual jockeying for power, between Petey and Meg no less than between Stanley and Goldberg and his henchman McCann.  Political issues are not as explicitly addressed as in some of the later plays, but there is no doubt that Goldberg represents some form of state power while Stanley may be a dissident, or is perhaps just a social oddball.

Desmond Barrit’s performance as Goldberg stood out in this fine Royal Exchange production.  He was a menacing presence, malign and self contained.  You felt that he was capable of anything, even more so because of his old world courtesy and artificially convivial outlook.

The Birthday Party is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 6 July, further details can be found here.