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The Birthday Party & The Room Paperback – January 20, 1994


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The Birthday Party & The Room + Waiting for Godot (Eng rev): A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (January 20, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802151140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802151148
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Pinter is one of those few playwrights who reward re-reading as well as re-viewing.
MACLEAR
If one is to care about anything that is happening in "The Birthday Party," you need to care a bit about the figure at its center, the hapless layabout Stanley.
Bill Slocum
I would agree that this play is a funny read, but it's certainly very unsettling as well.
Ken Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John F. Rooney VINE VOICE on July 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
"The Room" (1957) was Harold Pinter's first play, a one act piece, and it demonstrates some of the Absurdist features we grew to know so well: the seemingly aimless conversation, the sense of menace, dread, and terror, real violence or lurking violence, the Pinterian pauses, the feeling that we are in alien territory dealing with characters who don't seem to be in control of their destinies.
Of course none of us is in control of his or her destiny, but in this play Rose doesn't know if the room is still hers, who her landlord is, and who are the strange people who enter the room and seem to be attempting to control her life. Is Mr. Kidd the landlord? If he is, he doesn't know how many floors the house has. Rose asks him questions; he evades answering them or doesn't comprehend.
The stranger Riley calls her Sal, and says she is wanted at home. She's puzzled; we're puzzled, and that's part of what Pinter is saying--we live in an existential world in which we operate and wait for we know not what.
Pinter took his cue from Samuel Beckett and brought his audience into new territory where the norms of behavior were altered, into a world of questions without answers. But Pinter the artist was able to create an alternative world in which his plots intrigue us, his dialogue has its own beauty and majesty, and his characters fascinate us.
Pinter changed the audience's expectations, shook them out of their usual theater-going habits and made them think. He made them anxious, antsy with his skittish people in his edgy plays. Rose says, "Who did bring me into the world?" Why, Pinter did, of course.
Rose Hudd talks endlessly in the beginning, and her husband Bert says nothing. It's cold and damp, and he has to take the van out.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gunnar Bell Gundersen on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Birthday Party is a very good play about a young man and his inevitable and perhaps unavoidable fate. The plot is quite simple, yet it is also elegant in its simplicity. Without saying too much, the story is about a young man who has been living for some time in a beach-sited boarding house owned by a mid-aged couple. These characters lives' are invaded by two men who for some unknown reason want to catch the young man. The story evolves...
The play is captivating and exciting, at some points also downright scary. Pinter has obviously used techniques of how to seize the attention of an audience, something a reader will surely experience. The incertainty and unease that fills the story is highly credible, as one easily can identify the feelings that fills you when something sudden, dangerous and unavoidable happens to you.
I think Pinter perhaps has found inspiration in other authors works. As I read it, I came to think on Hemingways short story "The Killers" and the sense of utter despair of Kafka's "The Trial". Please do not shoot me should you disagree..
As a play, one recognizes elements that characterize most great playwrights, both classical and modern, due to its "actor-friendliness" and room for interpretation.
Recommended, indeed.
And one last thing to Ken (The reviewer): Unless you follow the idea that Meg has a brain-disfunction, She is definitely not Stanleys mother.
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Format: Paperback
The Birthday Party is one of Harold Pinter's earliest and most difficult plays. It depicts the banal and inane ways in which its characters, everyday lower middle class folks, keep the otherwise pointless connections among each other active. In spite of the obvious annoyance of the interlocutors, especially Petey and Stanley, Meg maintains her mock cheerful and inquisitive banter, ignoring the rudely dismissive responses of the others. She serves them because that is her role as wife for Petey and cook/housekeeper for Stanley, presumably a boarder. Given the sexual division of labor in the world as we commonly find it, the objects of her attention and concern are conventionally ungrateful, demanding, and sarcastic. A family of sorts, playing commonplace familial roles in routine and deeply unsatisfying ways, none less boring, unimaginative, or brutally prescriptive than those played by the obviously put upon Meg, to whom the men's assessment really matters.

When Petey announces that they may be having two additional boarders, it's taken matter-of-factly, as if we had known all along that Meg and Petey's home was a largely uninhabited rooming house. In general, letting out rooms is evidence of a need for additional income and hardly a basis for a claim of higher status and social prestige. However, Meg is up to the challenge of redefining their circumstances by repeatedly insisting that their house "is on the list." The nature of the list is unspecified, but Meg's repeatedly made claim seems most sensibly taken as a list of the best, most respectable boarding houses in the area.
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By MACLEAR on July 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have seen "The Birthday Party" three times in three different productions and love the writing so much i had to have it. Pinter is one of those few playwrights who reward re-reading as well as re-viewing. The characters leap off the page. Like many of this master's plays it is a magnificent blend of the comic and the somber. For those who have not been able to catch the play on the stage or screen, if you enjoy modern drama you will most certainly enjoy this play. As for "The Room" is an apprentice piece - not at all bad, but Pinter had not fully come into his own at the time he wrote it. If you enjoy "The Birthday Party" be certain to also purchase his masterpiece "The Homecoming". Happy reading.
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