A wonderful Party
It’s an oldie but a goodie. We’re referring to the famed Harold Pinter play The Birthday Party that the MTC opened in the Fairfax Theatre this week.
It’s a tautly produced and tautly acted reworking of the play that set the previously staid English theatre back on its heels in the 1950s. The six cast members give a faultless rendering of the tricky, fast-paced and brittle dialogue that was responsible for a new word entering the lexicon – Pinteresque.
Best of all is Glenn Shea as the gentle giant McCann, who oozes menace in the most gentle and polite manner – a man who would give you a warm smile as he breaks your arm. He is seamlessly matched by Marshall Napier as they bat their single word dialogues back and forth.
Perfectly cast, too, is Pauline Whyman as the homely landlady Meg, who dispenses cornflakes and fried bread no matter what disasters and disputes are swirling around her.
The one jarring note is the interspersing of local places in among the retained references to suburbs and beach resorts in England. Maybe director Julian Meyrick was stressing the universality of the theme – as he does, too, by having a largely aboriginal cast – but it confuses more than it expounds.
All in all, a good night in the theatre and probably the highlight of MTC’s year so far.