Comedy of menace at The Barn in Southwick

The cast of Wick Theatre Companys production of Harold Pinters masterpiece of drama and comedy thriller, The Birthday Party
The cast of Wick Theatre Companys production of Harold Pinters masterpiece of drama and comedy thriller, The Birthday Party
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Prepare to laugh, possibly to cry, definitely to be intrigued, titillated, scared, baffled, misled, confused, shocked, tickled – and in the end royally entertained.

All this from Wick Theatre Company’s production of Harold Pinter’s masterpiece of drama and comedy thriller, The Birthday Party.

Performances run from Wednesday, March 30, to Saturday, April 2, at The Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick at 7.45pm. Tickets are £11, available from the box office on 01273 597094 or via www.wicktheatre.co.uk

The company has assembled a superb cast to portray the odd but strangely familiar characters – a woman who thinks she is running a B&B, a live-in piano player who has lost his piano and his nerve, a ‘tart with a heart’ and a guilty conscience, and a pair of sinister interviewers. It is the world of saucy seaside postcards but the comedy has a way of turning into menace.

Director Graham Till said: “The play has its darker side, of course. Harold Pinter didn’t know it at the time but when he created his characters and plot for The Birthday Party in the late 1950s,he was conjuring up Julian Assange, and Guantanamo Bay, and GCHQ whistleblowers, and Edward Snowden and more.

“Well, Morecambe and Wise, and Frank Spencer and Betty come to mind – because the comedy keeps bursting through.

“In his early days, when Pinter wrote this amazing play, the variety and TV bill toppers he was aware of on the contemporary scene might have been the likes of Jewel and Warriss, and George Burns and Gracie Allen. I see echoes anyway.”

In honour of Pinter’s wonderfully musical dialogue, there will be a built in a mini-overture to get the evening off to a rousing start.

Pinter, who lived in Worthing for a time, is thought to have based his seaside landlady, her timid husband and the solitary lodger on digs in Eastbourne where he stayed while working as a jobbing actor. Dora Bryan, whose work in the theatre was recently commemorated with a blue plaque in Brighton, won the Laurence Olivier award for her role as Meg in the 1994 National Theatre production.

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