The Birthday Party

Date 31st March 2016
Society Wick Theatre Company
Venue The Barn Theatre, Southwick
Type of Production Play
Director Graham Till


Author: Lance Milton

Harold Pinter is, for some, somewhat of a Marmite writer as his work is frequently ambiguous, regularly darkly full of menace and nearly always challenging. This is why it garners such extreme reactions from theatre goers and I believe always will. Thankfully I am a lover not a hater and indeed I used to read his plays with a friend as a somewhat unusual passtime in my younger years before career and children. The birthday party has always been a favourite and it has been many years since my first reading and I have been excited and not without trepidation in to see my first production of it. What the mind sees and what is delivered in a production will rarely be equal but I was delighted that in this instance there was very little margin between the two.

Graham Till's production was as tense and confusing as I believe Pinter intended and the breadth and depth of character achieved by his incredibly talented cast was integral to the success of communicating this so effectively to us, the unsuspecting audience. Dave Peaty, Pam Luxton, Phil Brown, Emily Hale, Dan Dryer and David Creedon were all perfectly cast to type and each brought an exquisite performance to the piece. It would not be reasonable for me to single out any of them for particular praise and from the veracity and collective nature of the performance I am pretty sure that they would not want me to. Never have I seen a cast working in such close concert to achieve a theatrical synergy that was simply joyous to behold.

The technical production values were equally as high with a fabulous set making clever use of gauze, wonderfully lit by Keiran Pollard, Mike Phillips and Martin Oakley set the scene brilliantly and the menacing use of sound deftly piloted by Bob Ryder completed the sinister and surreal yet immersive experience.

This was the first time in my years as a reviewer for NODA that, had I been free, I would have booked to return and see the play again the following night. I don't think I can give it any higher praise than that. Incredibly well done Southwick!