Pinter’s Celebration: Not to be Missed
There’s always that party: the one that orders too much wine, sends something back to the kitchen, has a domestic spat in public and talks a bit too loud. Irksome, maybe. But I bet you wanted to listen in on their conversation.
If you've had the good fortune to dine out in a nice restaurant, I'm sure you'll be familiar with the situation. There's always that party: the one that orders too much wine, sends something back to the kitchen, has a domestic spat in public and talks a bit too loud. Irksome, maybe. But I bet you wanted to listen in to their conversation.
Celebration, directed by Isabel Douglas-Hamilton and Natalie Spencer, and produced by Corinna Parker, is set in a gaudy west-end restaurant (supposedly a mockery of The Ivy). We are introduced to two parties- one table of two loutish men and their trophy wives, and on another an insecure husband and his sultry, passive-aggressive wife.
The parties have come from the opera, or maybe the ballet, or perhaps the theatre. They aren't sure because they're all too engrossed in themselves to keep it in mind. The action flits back and forth between the two tables, with James Hogan excelling at capturing Lambert's aggressive manner and Eoin Bentick’s boorish Matt managing to spit food at his unimpressed wife.
Zefi Hennessy Holland does an absolutely brilliant job at Russell's uncomfortable manner, well complemented by Lillian Maguire as Suki, whose malice towards her husband is barely disguised beneath her ice-queen exterior and honeyed voice.
The two tables are eventually united in a fantastically uncomfortable moment as Lambert spots Suki, an old flame.
Celebration works through awkward comedy and social satire. The husbands make fools of their wives; the wives make fools of their husbands. The action takes place with the constraint of the public space, but barely contains the underlying tensions- the psychopath, the sexual predator, the closet racist…
A final mention to Bo Treadwell, excellently cast as the overzealous waiter whose regular interjections get less and less believable as the night progresses.
Although the interior of the Garage Theatre does not immediately deliver thoughts of an opulent restaurant, the dapper dress of the men plus risqué numbers on the women are a fair nod towards the type of establishment Pinter was punting at. That said, the production doesn't need to rely on set design. The Garage seats only 60- and the atmosphere bought about is such that you could just be in that restaurant, listening in on the next-door table.
Be sure not to miss out on the dark humour and sharp social commentary of Celebration: shows are on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th March at the Garage.