Top positive review
An unnerving trip into the sleazy and unknown
on 14 September 2017
If you see this play as symbolic, you will probably enjoy it more than if you expect everything to tie together. Stanley has been staying in a basic boarding house where he seems to be the only guest. On a day which might or might not be his birthday two men arrive (one Jewish, apparently, one Irish) to stay overnight — and, although he is unsure as to whether he has had previous contact with the Irish one before —Stanley seems to be the reason they arrived. The actions in the play seem more and more menacing but hints, some of them contradictory, are given more freely to the audience than facts. So if you want a clear plot and clear ending you will be frustrated. But if you want something which resembles your own life — in that you have to guess a lot of the time and will never find out for sure about some things — then The Birthday Party will be illuminating for you. Most of the play seems remarkably fresh despite it arriving at its own 60th birthday party this year (2017). But one could imagine that the women (rather used and abused, and a bit silly) would be written differently if Pinter were at his desk now.