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Celebration & The Room (Faber Plays) Paperback – 20 Mar 2000
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A volume containing Harold Pinter's latest, wildly funny play, Celebration, as well as The Room, the first work by the Nobel Prize-winning playwright.
About the Author
Harold Pinter was born in London in 1930. He lived with Antonia Fraser from 1975 and they married in 1980. In 1995 he won the David Cohen British Literature Prize, awarded for a lifetime's achievement in literature. In 1996 he was given the Laurence Olivier Award for a lifetime's achievement in theatre. In 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and, in the same year, the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry and the Franz Kafka Award (Prague). In 2006 he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize and, in 2007, the highest French honour, the Légion d'honneur. He died in December 2008.
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The comedy "Celebration" comes as a bit of a change of pace after the very intense "political" plays Pinter wrote from 1985 to the turn of the millennium. Riotously funny, it is set in "the best restaurant in Europe" with the stage divided into two tables. At one, Lambert and his brother Matt dined with their wives, Julie and her sister Prue, celebrating the anniversary of Julie and Lambert. At the second table, Suki chats with his wife Russell. As the play progresses, the characters get progressively more drunk, make appalling revelations without realizing it, divulge their infidelities, and yet stay oddly content and glad-hearted. Among the tables roam Richard and Sonia, the owners, and a hilarious intrusive waiter. It has been a long time since I read a Pinter play that made me laugh out loud (unless it was the laugh of shock and outrage at revelations in his political works), and enjoyed "Celebration" immensely.
"The Room" was written when Pinter was still squarely in the genre of theatre of the absurd. Rose, a sixty-something housewife, muses about who's living in the basement flat of her building, talks incessantly to her taciturn husband, and encounters a young couple interested in the room to let. At the end of the play Riley, a "blind negro" enters and brings a surprising message to Rose, resulting in the play's shocking ending. While I found the ending compelling, most of the play is fairly tedious; the very length of the play is a mark of the young writer's immaturity, since mature Pinter is quite compressed. Still, worth checking out as the beginning of a very entertaining career.