Details about The Birthday Party
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Pinter seems to be a bit out of his time, as his writing style often confused his audience.
The Birthday Party premiered in Cambridge's Arts Theater on April 28, 1958, with Willoughby Gray as Petey and Richard Pearson as Stanley. Pinter directed the initial productions himself, but Peter Wood took his place as director once the play hit the pre-London stage. Though the play was received well in Cambridge, it was a resounding failure during its run at the Lyric Opera House in Hammersmith. The avant-garde writing and the confusing subtext sat poorly with critics and audiences alike.
Despite its initial commercial failure, The Birthday Party has since proven to be one Pinter’s most reproduced plays. It was revived by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theater in London in 1964, to critical success. Pinter directed this rendition of the show and later wrote, directed, and appeared in subsequent productions, including the 1968 film version which starred Robert Shaw as Stanley. The Lyric Opera House celebrated the play’s 50th anniversary in May 2008, just months before Pinter’s death.