Writing during the paranoia of the Cold War, Pinter worked elements of Kafka and Orwell into The Birthday Party. There are political allusions and religious ones (McCann is Irish Catholic, Goldberg is Jewish). But 50 years on, this play is no quaint relic. It's a masterpiece that still resonates in our "see something, say something" times. The surprise now isn't so much the idea of two scary men showing up at one's door with the power to question and arrest without evidence, but that it isn't happening more often and to ordinary citizens just like Stanley every day. (Pinter, growing more politically outspoken in his later years — he was named a Nobel Laureate in 2005 and died in 2008 — predicted just that.)

Looking at The Birthday Party now, McCann and Goldberg are precursors to John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, right down to their sharp suits and briefcases. They have their charms. They have some style. For all we know, Stanley deserves what they have in store for him. Or does he?

Undermain's production, directed by Patrick Kelly, features scenery by Tony Award winner John Arnone and 1950s period costumes by Giva Taylor. Fight choreography is by Sara Romersberger.

Winging it: Adam Garst, Lindsay Gee and Clinton Greenspan are adorable as creepy crawlies in DCT's Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly.
Karen Almond
Winging it: Adam Garst, Lindsay Gee and Clinton Greenspan are adorable as creepy crawlies in DCT's Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly.

Details

Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly continues through June 3 at Dallas Children’s Theater. Call 214-740-0051. The Birthday Party continues through June 2 at Undermain Theatre. Call 214-747-5515.

Every aspect of this Party — the acting (particularly Bette Davis-like Lang as Meg, and Lush as Stanley), design (crazy-scary red poppies on the palm-frond wallpaper), direction (tight and fast), even the spot-on dialects (Stimac's dark Irish brogue is perfection) — is worth celebrating. It's too bad I can't review it. I'd give it a rave.

Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly

The Birthday Party

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3 comments
T.L.
T.L.

How is this NOT a review? Did you ever think that perhaps Undermain has high artistic standards and doesn't want to be subjected to your low, base style of writing? They asked you not to do something and you felt you were above their request, but you're not - you're a fool, a bad writer relying on snark and gossip rather than intelligence and commentary. Undermain should strongly consider legal action.

Joe Schmo
Joe Schmo

more theaters should follow Undermain's example

Joe Schmo
Joe Schmo

this is illustrative of why SMU terminated you, you have no ethics & can't play by the rules of the game that someone else makes, and the fact that you have no talent

 
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