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Celebration and The Room: Two Plays (Pinter, Harold) Paperback – June 12, 2000
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From the Inside Flap
Collected here in one volume are two hallmark plays by Harold Pinter, Celebration, first performed in 2000, and his first play, The Room, first performed in 1957. Both plays are invested with the element that make Pinter's work unique: the disturbingly familiar dialogue, subtle characterization, and abrupt mood and power shifts among characters, which can be by turns terrifying, moving, and wildly funny.
"In Pinter's plays, words are probes launched into the world, variously, to mask, to mystify, to mock, or to murder. He sets out his entire smorgasbord of gorgeous verbal moves in Celebration, which, like all good festive occasions, he keeps light and lively."--John Lahr, The New Yorker
"Celebration [is] hugely entertaining. The riotous one-liners fall far faster and funnier than ever.... Pinter captures the vacuous idiocies of everyday dialogue with dazzling skill."--Georgina Brown, The Mail on Sunday
"One of the finest comic writers in the language...[Celebration's] dialogue has a sense of ebb and flow, of bursting out and retreating in defeat, of self-abasement and evasion, of attack and tactical withdrawal. The result is that the most prosaic passages can have a musical quality; harsh minor keys, perversely accurate rhythms, heady crescendos that take you headlong into pauses pregnant with knowledge."--John Peters, The Sunday Times (London)
Harold Pinter is the author of such modern classics for the stage as The Homecoming and The Birthday Party. He lives in London and is married to Antonia Fraser.
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The comedy "Celebration" comes as a bit of a change of pace after the very intense "political" plays Pinter wrote from 1985 to the turn of the millennium. Riotously funny, it is set in "the best restaurant in Europe" with the stage divided into two tables. At one, Lambert and his brother Matt dined with their wives, Julie and her sister Prue, celebrating the anniversary of Julie and Lambert. At the second table, Suki chats with his wife Russell. As the play progresses, the characters get progressively more drunk, make appalling revelations without realizing it, divulge their infidelities, and yet stay oddly content and glad-hearted. Among the tables roam Richard and Sonia, the owners, and a hilarious intrusive waiter. It has been a long time since I read a Pinter play that made me laugh out loud (unless it was the laugh of shock and outrage at revelations in his political works), and enjoyed "Celebration" immensely.
"The Room" was written when Pinter was still squarely in the genre of theatre of the absurd. Rose, a sixty-something housewife, muses about who's living in the basement flat of her building, talks incessantly to her taciturn husband, and encounters a young couple interested in the room to let. At the end of the play Riley, a "blind negro" enters and brings a surprising message to Rose, resulting in the play's shocking ending. While I found the ending compelling, most of the play is fairly tedious; the very length of the play is a mark of the young writer's immaturity, since mature Pinter is quite compressed. Still, worth checking out as the beginning of a very entertaining career.