We don’t know much, and what little we’re told seems hard to believe.
The sad little boarding house in “The Birthday Party” at American Conservatory Theater only has one lodger, and we’re told he’s been there a year, but the woman who runs the house talks about him like he’s been there much longer. Lodger Stanley (Firdous Bamji) supposedly used to be a professional pianist, but his story keeps changing, and the his eyes dart around sure makes it seem like he’s lying.
Then two sinister men come looking for Stanley because of something he’s supposedly done, but the closer they come to talking about what that thing might be, the more their dialogue starts descending into nonsense.
The 1958 play by Harold Pinter — his first full-length play, in fact — is as bewitching as it is mysterious. It’s also the last show Carey Perloff is directing before she steps down as artistic director, though a successor has not yet been named.
“The Birthday Party” became the first Pinter play produced in the United States when San Francisco’s Actor’s Workshop did it in 1960. Although this is the first time ACT has produced it, Perloff directed it in 1989 at Classic Stage Company in New York, with the now-deceased playwright in the room. She’s shown a real affinity for Pinter in several productions at ACT, including “Old Times” (1998), “The Homecoming” (2011) and a double bill of “Celebration” and “The Room” (2001). Previous to Perloff’s tenure, the only Pinter the company had done had been “Old Times” in 1984.
What really stands out in her production is how funny the play can be. Some of that is certainly due to two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey’s delightfully dotty performance as Meg, the landlady, with her singsong voice and blithe enthusiasm as she dotes on …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment