The classic Harold Pinter play The Birthday Party opens at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre next Wednesday.
In a surreal celebration, where nothing is certain, the drama centres on Stanley Webber.
He is possibly a pianist. He is lodging at Meg and Petey Boles’ seedy boarding house in an English Seaside town – which is possibly on the South Coast.
It is also possibly Stanley’s birthday, although he’s adamant it’s not.
But when two sinister strangers, Goldberg and McCann, arrive and demand a celebration, the birthday party turns into a nightmare.
This was Nobel Prize winner Pinter’s first produced full length play that went on to become one of his best-known and most popular.
It’s a powerful, absurd and unsettling story directed here by Blanche McIntyre, who audiences may know as the winner of the Critics Circle Most Promising Newcomer 2011 for the critically acclaimed Accolade and Foxfinder.
She said of the Royal Exchange: “‘I’ve wanted to work here for ages.
“There is a kind of magic trick of making the audience feel close even though the space is epic, that only the Exchange pulls off, and it allows plays to be ambitious and intimate at the same time.”
The cast of this production includes Maggie Steed as Meg, best known from television but whose extensive theatre credits include a role in the Broadway production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.
Ed Gaughan plays Stanley and was last seen at the Exchange in the Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre’s critically-acclaimed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The production runs to July 6.
For tickets, call the box office on 0161 833 9833 or buy online at www.royalexchange.co.uk/bookonline