Where Do I Know Them From? The Birthday Party
60 years since it’s creation, The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter comes to London’s West End. Set in a sleepy seaside boarding house on the coast, the mundane lives of the locals are upset by enigmatic strangers Goldberg and McCan. Soon, their humdrum world is turned on its head when a seemingly innocent birthday party turns into a total nightmare.
If you’ve never seen a Pinter play before, you’ve got a great chance to see your first one in The Birthday Party with TodayTix £25 daily Rush tickets.
To stop you scratching your head while you’re sitting in the Stalls, wondering where you’ve seen them before, here’s our guide to a few key performances from the cast.
Best known as a comedic actor, you may recognise Stephen Mangan chiefly from Channel 4’s surreal comedy Green Wing, in which he played the boastful Guy Secretan. More recently, Stephen starred with Green Wing co-star Tamsin Greig and Matt LeBlanc in the hit show Episodes. On stage, you may have seen him in The People Are Friendly at Royal Court with Sheridan Smith or Jeeves and Wooster at the Duke of York’s Theatre. In 2008, he starred in The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic which then transferred to Broadway and saw Stephen nominated for a Tony Award.
Zoë Wanamaker is known for her extensive list of credits across TV, film and stage, and her ability to flit between hilarious comedy and serious drama. To some fans, she’ll always be Madame Hooch from the Harry Potter series, Cassandra from Doctor Who, and others will remember her from 11 seasons of the classic sitcom My Family. You can also catch her, not only in The Birthday Party, but also in Britannia and Kay Mellor’s new series Girlfriends!
For theatre fans, you may recognise her from her stunning performance in Kenneth Branagh’s Season of Plays at the Garrick, for which she starred in Harlequinade/All on Her Own. Or perhaps you caught her turn in Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse, and if you’ve never seen her in a theatre before, you’ve got the chance to see Zoë on stage in a Pinter classic!
Toby Jones is a little bit of a chameleon in the way he can disappear into any characters, and give audiences comedic, dramatic and menacing performances. In Sherlock, he was terrifying as the serial killer Culverton Smith, apparently staying in character the entire shoot! He’s hilarious in the BBC comedy The Detectorists and transformed into iconic American author Truman Capote for the movie Infamous. Although he appears on stage sporadically, he is an award-winner. For his turn as Arthur in The Play What I Wrote, he won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In the last two years, Pearl Mackie’s star has definitely risen. As Bill Potts, the first openly gay companion of the Doctor in Doctor Who, Pearl has an army of fans that are excited to see her new work in The Birthday Party. But if you were paying close attention to fringe theatre in the past few years, you may have seen Pearl working mostly on the stage in shows like Obama-ology, Hello Kind World and also in the award-winning West End hit, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Peter Wight plays Petey in The Birthday Party and caught a wave of roles by connecting with iconic British Director Mike Leigh, appearing in Naked, Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake and Another Year. Fans of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz in particular will recognise him as the landlord of the local pub, Roy Porter. On the stage, Peter appeared recently in Hamlet at the Almeida with Andrew Scott, 2007’s The Seagull at the Royal Court and 2014’s Electra at the Old Vic.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is an actor who may be more familiar to Irish audiences as the star of the TV series, Love/Hate, but is about to be recognisable worldwide. Not only is he appearing in The Birthday Party, and the upcoming Ellen Page film, The Cured, he’s now a part of The Marvel universe. Playing the character of Ebony Maw, a son of the mad titan Thanos, in the new movie Avengers: Infinity War, Tom is one to watch!
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- Doctor Who
- Green Wing
- Harry Potter
- Pearl Mackie
- Peter Wight
- Stephen Mangan
- Toby Jones
- Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
- Zoe Wanamaker