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The Birthday Party

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  4,614 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Stanley Webber is visited in his boarding-house by two strangers, Goldberg and McCann. An innocent-seeming birthday party for Stanley turns into a nightmare.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 1991 by Faber & Faber (first published 1957)
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Best Plays Ever
72nd out of 532 books — 670 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jun 11, 2013 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: you came right out of the blue, you know that?
Recommended to Mariel by: you're a dead duck
Goldberg. You're dead. You can't live, you can't think, you can't love. You're dead. You're a plague gone bad. There's no juice in you. You're nothing but an odour!

Goldberg and McMann eviscerate Stanley. Who are Goldberg and McMann? Two men to mysteriously show up and ask for a room in the boarding house that isn't a boarding house. They mean business of menace and firey pits of scorn. Go Stanley. It's your birthday. I pictured Stanley to not fit his own clothes. He doesn't fit his time, the kit
If you are a literature student and haven't read this play, go sue your university.

If you're a literature student, you've read the play and hated it, go sell your degree.

If you are a literature student, have read the play and are indifferent to it, I understand.

If you're a layman and you've read the play, bravo!

Honestly, I don't know how I'd have reacted if I'd read the play when I was younger. But literature develops taste for all things.

Be forewarned. This is a play belonging to absurd theatre
a play depicting the modern rootlessness of man, who is wandering with no origin and no destination. He can be involved in dual relationship of being a lover and a surrogate son. There is something always lurking which haunts him so that he is not able to articulate himself fully. The Postmodernism predominates and in the wake of it, the danger, futility, absurdity, terror, guilt, nothingness, all prevails, which never allows the protagonist to rest, and there is no solace for him.
Eeh LaLa
It's a play in which very little of importance is said – there are no monologues which I would like to quote, in fact, I did not highlight a single passage, a rather unusual feat in my reading history. It's rather in the inane babble of Meg that it first comes out that there is something amiss, and the script is a subdued matter to read but which I imagine can be brilliantly performed by a cast of energetic and intense actors.

It's a sinister and dark play, which particularly highlights the unsai
May 01, 2007 Sam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Why give "The Birthday Party" only four stars and "The Caretaker" five? While the former play is certainly Pinter's most famous, and contains a good sampling of his notable techniques - disconnected language, extreme power relationships, and a persistent sense of threat and violence - it's a much messier play than "The Caretaker"; more themes are addressed, but Pinter's ambitions often get in the way of his sense of character. In the end, preference between the two plays seems highly personal to ...more
Definitely my favorite Pinter that I've read so far. It's so tense and violent but what makes it work so amazingly well is how implied and ambiguous all the confrontations are. I'd love to see this on stage to get the full experience of the shouting match and blackout scenes. The influence of this play seems pretty widespread but others usually fall way short of Pinter's more subtly effective approach (Michael Haneke's Funny Games being a prime example).
Absurd banality at its best.
It is said that when they asked Beckett who Godot was, he was like "I don't know!" I guess the same thing is true about the annoying ambiguities we encounter in this play. Firstly, Pinter was an Absurdist. Secondly, Pinter did not determine the identity and whereabouts of his characters and his plot; he allowed the flow of writing to take the characters to new places. So it's useless to try to form a coherent system of meaning based upon what happens in the play.
My personal interpretation is tha
Jonathan Francisco
"I don't find plays very literary," I told Miss Ecuador. He was reading one then and was telling me that it wasn't bad at all, the one he's reading. The look on his face and that dramatic retort afterwards made me realized I have just said something so terrible. And the fact that I haven't read one yet.

I don't know why I feel this way towards plays. Don't get me wrong, I have read about five now and all have a 5 star rating. Maybe it's just a question of concept. I just have the wrong one.

David Stephens
Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party is an absurdist play filled with mundane conversations, shoddy memories, and characters who continually delude themselves. The plot concerns a down trodden and disheveled man, Stanley Webber, who is living in a seaside boarding house with its elderly owners. One day, two mysterious men with unclear but almost certainly harmful intentions arrive and insist upon a birthday party for Stanley. Whether or not it is his birthday, he gets the party, and his peaceful l ...more
This is Pinter's first well-made play!! Themes of Isolation, menace, the Other, the haunting past, idenity...and relationships are ale embedded there! A Lovely Pinteresque Language entraps you as well throughout the play!
The play takes place in almost one day and a night...revolving round a birthday party! It will leave you puzzled..and in terror just as anything else in life!
Am adding this one as a tribute because the author died recently. This was a much-quoted play amongst me and my friends. We loved the exaggerated ordinariness of the dialogue, the use of pauses, the underlying darkness.
A nasty bit of business that I would love to see live, with the right cast. Apparently there's actually a movie version but I've never seen it and know virtually nothing about it.
Shannon Watson
When I searched this book, I thought it might be about some Victorian girl going and having a party. Boy I was wrong.

This book/play truly captivates the essence of this haunted man, who his unnamed past comes back with a vengeance, and turns his birthday into a spiraling nightmare. Now this being an AP book I always assume that its going to be a long dreary ride into over detail and characterization, but it wasn't like that. The storyline and dialog was very interesting to say the least, however
Parvathi Rupa
This is my first experience reading Harold Pinter. This play was really worth my time. But I felt that a theatrical version would be much more effective than the book.
Thom Dunn
Pinter stays with a person....all you need is one good production. Is it the absurd that captures the imagination ? I would rather see Betrayal than King Lear.
Read this for class. Had a hard time understanding it.
Chelsea K
Like a typical play of Pinter's, The Birthday Party consists of baffling dialogues, which, when taken at face value, make little sense. The characters often interact with each other in the queerest manner; sometimes one might even get the impression that they are like robots, uttering things that are largely meaningless or, as most prominently in McCann's case, reiterating points that are already addressed by others. It is exactly this peculiarity of style and composition that renders Pinter's p ...more
Dec 29, 2013 §-- rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Resists interpretation to the point of annoyance. Most of the text seems to be without consequence--cups of tea, bowls of corn flakes, frying eggs, etc.--and the parts that actually do seem significant contradict each other. The reader is left not really knowing what happened, and, as a result, not really knowing why he sat through this.

Some of the common readings that have been offered are appealing, but unpersuasive. Pinter is intentionally ambiguous. No loose ends are tied up at all: for exam
Ok... so I didn't really like this one at all. Despite it only being a fairly short drama it took me what seems to be ages to get through, simply because it didn't grab me. The characters don't seem realistic (if that's what they're supposed to be) nor do they seem to function well as features of an absurdist play either, and at the end of the day I just don't know what to make of them or the play. The bits that were slightly enjoyable (particularly in Act 2) does not yield enough information to ...more
جابر طاحون
حقيقي أنا في غاية السعادة إني بقرأ الأعمال الكاملة لهارولد بنتر . إزاي بيصيغ قوالب سهلة ، يعبر بيهل عن حالة انسانية
السيطرة التي يمثلها جولدبرج، التي تودي بستانلي في هوة من الفراغ الزمني ،لما ينصاع لأوامره و لا نهاية و لا مخرج من تلك الهوة و كيف كان ستانلي عاطلًا يجتر ذكريات ماضي موهومة و يحلم من دون القدرة علي تحقيق أي شيء .

الأمر يتعلق بخيانة المرء ذاته
Jey Arbie
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. The play is a much equivocal one and its beauty depends much on how you perceive it. In my case, I saw it as a morbid and dark play, one which unfolds how someone deals with suffocation (one of the main themes) and how threatening others can be when they barge in the world you have created from the deep recesses of your mind.
Oh, gee. As in Shaw and Beckett, Pinter's first work is not without its charm. The "uselessness and bleakness" angle so articulately employed in "Godot" is present here as well--there is an aimlessness, a sense of character alienation on an individual basis--perhaps actual just sound and fury signifying nil. All the characters seem to be pawns in that "Classical Narrative" sort of way--but they are obvious embodiments of other things--FOR SURE. Pinter seems like the most surreal (hooray!) of the ...more
This is one of the popular plays of Harold Pinter, the English Nobel Prize-winning playwright. The play abounds with the notorious Pinter pauses. This work is also a quintessential Pinteresque: it is not realism, but devoid of symbolism and abstraction.
okay, that was definitely one of the strangest plays i've ever read. I mean, the beginning is quite okay, but then the situation becomes weirder and weirder with the arrival of the two gentlemen, and what they do to Stanley (what exactly do they do to him?)... Anyway, a lot of people may love this play, but I'm more like okay with it. It wasn't that good, but it wasn't that bad either.
جشن تولد "استانلی وبر" که نوازنده ی پیانو بوده، توسط مگ به یک کابوس تبدیل می شود. مگ دو بیگانه؛ گلدبرگ و مک کان را که در جستجوی استانلی اند، به مهمانی دعوت کرده. آن دو استانلی را با سوالاتی بی ربط، بازپرسی می کنند، گویی استانلی را متهم می کنند و از او می خواهند اعتراف کند. مک کان با شکستن لیوان استانلی و تخریب هدیه ی تولدش، او را تحقیر می کند. استانلی که تحت فشار، قادر به صحبت کردن نیست، ناگهان قصد تجاوز به زنی از مهمانان را می کند. آنها استانلی خرد شده را می برند و در انتها بی آن که بدانیم چه ک ...more
After seeing this play performed at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater, I decided to read the play to find what I must have missed. Pinter is a genius, right? I loved Pinter's Betrayal when I saw it performed in the early 1980's, but I simply do not not care for this earlier Pinter play (neither watching it be performed nor reading it on the page). I could not connect with any of its six characters on any level. I know that one theme of "theater of the absurd" is the impossibility of sustained human ...more
Gilgamesh  Nabeel
it was OK. I always found Pinter's plays simple and vague as life. you does not understand it well as if he intended to let you interpret it as you like. sometimes I do not like such things but this is the realty of life. he told us a lot about his characters past but without full understanding. it ends suddenly! the woman seems to be funny as well as the Irish man. he always consider one more intelligent than another one. many repeats! the last advice was not to let them to oblige you following ...more
Jorge Garcia
Lavagem cerebral...! Muito interessante. Já tinha visto encenada nos Artistas Unidos e fiquei completamente às aranhas; depois de ler fiquei com uma ideia mais clara, mas não muito mais.
نمایش نامه و متن خیلی خوب بود هرچند متاسفانه حذفیات و سانسورهایی داشت. در کنار کتاب ، ضمیمه ی چاپ شده که تحلیل های انتقادی، مصاحبه با یک منتقد و ضمیمه های کتاب عالی هستند.
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Harold Pinter, CH, CBE, was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, political activist and poet. He was one of the most influential playwrights of modern times. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

After publishing poetry and acting in school plays as a teenager in London, Pinter began his professional theatrical career in 1951, touring throughout Ireland. From 1952,
More about Harold Pinter...
The Homecoming Betrayal The Caretaker The Dumb Waiter The Birthday Party & The Room

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