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The Birthday Party - Toby Jones, Stephen Mangan and Zoë Wanamaker star

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A MAJOR revival of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party will run at the Harold Pinter Theatre from January 18 (previews from January 9) to April 14, 2018 – 60 years after the play’s debut.

Ian Rickson will direct Pinter’s masterpiece which will star Toby Jones, Stephen Mangan and Zoë Wanamaker, with further casting to be announced.

Stanley Webber (Toby Jones) is the only lodger at Meg (Zoë Wanamaker) and Petey Boles’ sleepy seaside boarding house. The unsettling arrival of enigmatic strangers Goldberg (Stephen Mangan) and McCann disrupts the humdrum lives of the inhabitants and their friend Lulu, and mundanity soon becomes menace when a seemingly innocent birthday party turns into a disturbing nightmare.

Truth and alliances hastily shift in Pinter’s brilliantly mysterious dark-comic masterpiece about the absurd terrors of the everyday.

Rickson, who previously directed Pinter’s Betrayal and Old Times, said:

“I knew Harold from when I ran the Royal Court and he was a great mentor to me. Doing The Birthday Party is particularly thrilling because as with the best first major plays – like first albums, and first novels – it has the intense DNA of the writer’s inner life; their yearnings, their obsessions, their longings. There’s something about The Birthday Party in particular that’s so raw and committed – it has this kind of anarchic, punk spirit and I’m just so excited about directing it.”

British Actor Toby Jones is known for his roles both in the theatre and on screen. Earlier this year, he finished filming French comedy film Naked Normandy for Philippe le Gay, and next year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He has a further four films out later this year including Universal Pictures’ crime drama The Snowman, psychological indie thriller, Kaleidoscope, Lionsgate’s World War One drama Journey’s End and Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or nominated film, Happy End.

Jones will also reprise his BAFTA-nominated role later this year in the third season of the award-winning comedy series Detectorists, written by and co-starring Mackenzie Crook. His other work includes ‎Infamous, for which he won Best British Actor at the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards for his performance as Truman Capote; the Oscar-nominated adaptation of John le Carre’s classic crime novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; and the HBO/BBC television movie The Girl, for which he received a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy nomination.

Jones’ theatre credits include: Circle Mirror Transformation, The Painter, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Parlour Song, Dumb Waiter and Other Pinter Pieces and Measure for Measure (with Complicite) and The Play What I Wrote, winning the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Stephen Mangan is a stage, film, television and voice actor. After graduating from Cambridge University and then RADA, he began his acting career in the theatre and in 2008 starred in The Norman Conquests at The Old Vic and subsequently on Broadway. He was nominated for a Tony Award and the play won Best Revival. His other theatre credits include: Birthday, The People Are Friendly (Royal Court Theatre), Jeeves and Wooster (Duke of York’s Theatre), Hayfever (Savoy Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC) and Rules For Living (National Theatre).

On television, he plays the lead role of Sean Lincoln in the comedy series Episodes, opposite Tamsin Greig and Matt LeBlanc. Series 5 is to be broadcast next year when he can also be seen starring in the new comedy series Bliss for Sky Atlantic, Hang Ups for Channel 4 and Abi Morgan’s new BBC1/AMC drama The Split. His films include Breathe, Billy Elliot, Birthday, Postman Pat: The Movie (Voice), Rush, Beyond the Pole and Confetti.

Zoë Wanamaker is a four-time Tony Award nominee, and a nine-time Olivier Award nominee, winning the Best Actress Award twice for Electra and Once In A Lifetime. Her career has taken her from the RSC to the National Theatre via Broadway, the Royal Court, the West End and the Donmar Warehouse. Her varied television career has included the much-loved BBC sitcom My Family, along with Poirot and Mr. Selfridge.

She received a BAFTA nomination for her role in the film Wilde, with other film credits including Harry Potter and My Week With Marilyn. She will be appearing in the Sky/Amazon collaboration Britannia (2017) as Queen Antedia and in Girlfriends for ITV.

Ian Rickson was Artistic Director at the Royal Court from 1998 to 2006, during which time he directed Krapp’s Last Tape, The Winterling, Alice Trilogy, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, Fallout, The Night Heron, Boy Gets Girl, Mouth to Mouth (also in the West End), Dublin Carol, The Weir (also in the West End and on Broadway), The Lights, Pale Horse and Mojo (also at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago), Ashes & Sand, Some Voices and Killers. His last production for the Royal Court, The Seagull, transferred to Broadway.

His numerous other credits include Against and Parlour Song (Almeida Theatre), The Red Lion, The Hothouse and The Day I Stood Still (National Theatre), Electra (Old Vic), The Children’s Hour (Comedy Theatre) and Me & My Friend (Chichester Festival Theatre). His film work includes: Fallout, Krapp’s Last Tape and The Clear Road Ahead.

Harold Pinter wrote twenty-nine plays including The Dumb Waiter, A Slight Ache, The Hothouse, The Caretaker, The Collection, The Lover, The Homecoming, Old Times, No Man’s Land, Betrayal, A Kind of Alaska, One For The Road, The New World Order, Moonlight and Ashes to Ashes. He also wrote twenty-one screenplays including The Pumpkin Eater, The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Sleuth.

Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, The Birthday Party will be designed by the Quay Brothers, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker, music by Stephen Warbeck and casting by Amy Ball.

This will be the seventh Harold Pinter play that Sonia Friedman has produced, three of which have been directed by Ian Rickson, who also directed Pinter himself in his last performance as an actor in Krapp’s Last Tape. It is also the ninth production directed by Ian Rickson that Sonia Friedman has produced.

Captioned Performance – Tuesday, February 27 at 7.30pm

Audio Described – Tuesday, March 6 at 7.30pm.

To book tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7622 or visit www.thebirthdayparty.london/.

Also at the Harold Pinter Theatre: the 2017 Tony Award® winning Oslo (October 2 to December 30, 2017, following September dates at the National Theatre).