Nothing strikes dread into the heart of a parent like a birthday party. They’re ominous affairs, whether you’re hosting or attending, full of questions like “Should I serve gluten free cupcakes?” or “Is $20 too much to spend on a gift for someone my kid won’t even know in a year?” or “Whatever happened to just meeting at Showbiz Pizza and playing skeeball?”. And then you wrestle with the more existential questions about your own birthdays, which seem to come faster and loom as more threatening each year. The phrase “happy birthday” just gets ironic and weird at a point, and I think that’s the meaning of playwright Harold Pinter’s malevolent masterpiece The Birthday Party. Undermain Theatre (3200 Main Street) stages the play, which uses a bizarre adult birthday party to expose themes of underlying dread, fear of conformity and the ambiguity of memory. But you know, without the bounce houses. Catch The Birthday Party, which runs Wednesdays through Saturdays until June 2. Tickets are $15-$25 and may be purchased at undermaintheatre.org.
Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: May 11. Continues through June 2, 2012