The Birthday Party was first performed in Cambridge on 28 April 1958, and it’s pre-London tour also included Oxford and Wolverhampton. Although it received excellent reviews at all these places, its first London season, at the Lyric, Hammersmith, closed after only eight performances, in the wake of poor reviews and low box offices. Perhaps audiences were not ready for such a play in those days!
However, a ‘rave review’ published in the Sunday Times after its closure thankfully rescued ‘The Birthday Party’ from oblivion, and it has gone on to become a classic. Its fiftieth anniversary in 2008 was celebrated with a revival season at The Lyric – this time to packed houses!
The play is about Stanley Webber, who lives in a seedy seaside boarding house ‘probably on the south coast’ (so not too far from the Isle of Wight!). The boarding house is run by Meg and Petey Boles, who are preparing to celebrate Stanley’s birthday when two mysterious strangers, Goldberg and McCann, turn up, apparently looking for him, and turning the day into a nightmare as everything is questioned.
Is it really Stanley’s Birthday?
Who are these strangers?
Are Meg and Petey really running a boarding house?
The ambiguity and contradictions invite the audience to question the relationship between past and present; truth and lies, and what humans can do to other humans.
Here is your chance to see a world-acclaimed, thought-provoking and entertaining theatre classic at the Apollo Theatre from April 1 – 9. Don’t miss it.
Further information and booking here: http://www.apollo-theatre.org.uk/the-birthday-party/