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The Birthday Party review – Pinter's cryptic classic turns 60 with a starry cast

Harold Pinter theatre, London
Toby Jones, Zoë Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan and Pearl Mackie do rich justice to the playwright’s strange and captivating psychodrama

“The first test of any work of art,” claimed George Orwell, “is survival.” If that is true, it is one Harold Pinter’s play passes with flying colours.

Derided on its debut in 1958, 60 years on The Birthday Party has lost none of its capacity to intrigue. In Ian Rickson’s starry production, it emerges not simply as a rep thriller filtered through a European sensibility – a cross between Agatha Christie and Kafka, as a German director once said – but as a play of intense psychological realism.

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