Celebration: First Night Review ***

Art & Lit Stage

For true Pinter’s fans.

Or if you want something radically different. Because even by Harold Pinter’s standards, nothing really happens in the play. Perhaps it is just as well that the play is little over half an hour. This is not to say that the play is not enjoyable. It is quite so.

Set in a familiar West End restaurant, there is a cross section of Pinter-esque characters. At one table, an anniversary celebration is taking place. The men – who are brothers – are also married to sisters, and have shadowy backgrounds, calling themselves ‘strategy consultants.’ At another table are a banker and his ditzy trophy wife.  Floating between these tables are the restaurant’s hosts and a chatty waiter who name drops continually. Under the exchanges of insults and the reminiscing of highly suspect memories, you sense a constant struggle for power, an ongoing negotiation under pressurised circumstances, where the only refuge for the characters seems to be inside their own heads.

This to and fro and wresting of power between the characters was done extremely well and the fact that it was got across so clearly and yet so covertly attests to the entire cast’s performance, which was of a very high standard. What’s more, all the cast were at extreme ease with their characters. There was great dynamics on stage too with the character interaction almost near perfect. Ellie Wade deserves a special mention for her performance of the sultry, manipulative and teasing trophy wife who almost still has it from her prime…almost. The performance of the characters not only brought out the feeling that this was a society that had known satisfaction and success for so long that they were stagnating in this bubble, but the slapstick comedy ensured that it was kept light hearted.

The props used, the detail in settings and the use of light was rather simplistic, and could have been a lot more elaborate and effective, especially considering Pinter’s preoccupation with rooms.

Worth a watch – definitely so if you love the unsettled and uneasy anti-climaxes Pinter’s work usually fills you with.

3 stars

by Aakash Balani

PHOTO/Toby Mather

For the trailer, please follow the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEzvK3HfInY