New production of Pinter classic

The Birthday Party at Devonshire Park Theatre
The Birthday Party at Devonshire Park Theatre

London Classic Theatre returns to the Devonshire Park Theatre next week with a new production of Harold Pinter classic The Birthday Party.

In a shabby boarding house in a small and familiar English seaside town, an elderly couple take care of a solitary guest, pianist Stanley, who rarely ventures out.

The arrival of two enigmatic strangers seems to offer a welcome distraction but when an impromptu, seemingly innocent birthday party abruptly turns into a deadly game, there are horrifying repercussions.

By turns cryptic thriller and macabre comedy, The Birthday Party was Pinter’s first major work. A playwright, director, actor, poet and political activist, he wrote 29 plays and in 2005, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

London Classic Theatre presents the first significant touring revival in recent years, promising to bring this ground-breaking piece to fresh and exciting life.

The company includes Jonathan Ashley (Goldberg), Gareth Bennett-Ryan (Stanley), Cheryl Kennedy (Meg), Ged McKenna (Petey), Declan Rodgers (McCann) and Imogen Wilde (Lulu).

The Birthday Party was initially a commercial flop, opening to almost universally negative reviews at the Lyric Hammersmith where it promptly closed just eight performances later.

Theatrical legend records that just six people attended the mid-week matinee. However a belated rave review in the Sunday Times helped revived the plays fortunes, and in 1961 it was adapted for television audiences and the Royal Shakespeare Company also mounted a revival of it in 1964.

While the actual location of the Seaside town itself is never referred to, there is a possibility that it could have been influenced by a visit that Pinter made to Eastbourne while on tour as he related a tale to his official biographer about an experience at an uncomfortable boarding house where he met an unforgettable landlady and a pianist.

Nightly performances will be held at 7.45pm and Wednesday matinee at 2.30pm; tickets from £15.50 to book or for more information call the box office on 01323 412000 or online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk.