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The Exe Ensemble: Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party

Wed 25 Jan 2023 - Sat 28 Jan 2023


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Recommended 13+ | Exeter Library




Various (See times below)

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The Exe Ensemble: Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party

The Exe Ensemble will re-invigorate Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party to awaken modern relevance and build mental health awareness.

Show Dates

Wednesday 25th January – 7:30pm

Thursday 26th January – 7:30m

Friday 27th January – 7:30pm

Saturday 28th January – 7:30pm

Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter wrote his first full-length play ‘The Birthday Party in 1957. A modern classic that retains its capacity to perplex, challenge and intrigue its audience. The play takes place in a boarding house by the sea in the South of England. There is only one guest, Stanley Webber, a pianist who appears unemployed and lives like a slob. He has been the only lodger at the guest house for some time. His hosts are husband and wife Petey and Meg. Petey, a deckchair attendant at the seafront, appears a quiet man, while Meg seems naive and unintelligent, devoting herself to routine. Their routines are turned upside down upon the arrival of two men, Goldberg and McCann. Stanley appears very anxious upon learning of their arrival. The two men start a process of disturbing interrogation of Stanley, causing severe mental distress. Pinter’s cryptic play is mesmerising as one tries desperately to decipher the ambiguous relationships and figure out why the intruders disturb the flow of events.

Meg: ”Oh, look. The drum’s broken. Why is it broken?”

Meg: ”It still makes a noise.”

Goldberg: ”Anyway, he was telling me, you see, this friend of mine, that sometimes it happens gradual – day by day it grows and grows and grows…day by day. And then sometimes it happens all at once. Poof! Like that. The nerves break. There’s no guarantee how it’s going to happen, but with certain people…it’s a foregone conclusion.”

Goldberg: ”What came over him? Breakdown, Mr Boles. Pure and simple. Nervous breakdown.”

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”

The Exe Ensemble re-invigorates and explores classic plays to awaken modern relevance through the mental health lens. The ensemble examines societal norms, the complexity of relationships and how cultural constructs shape the way we think and act. We invest in world-leading rehearsal techniques and processes to deliver theatre that transcends time and place, that excites through its intangibility and power to ignite the subconscious.

The ensemble is characterised by a spirit of enquiry, well-being and artistic experimentation to forge connections, spark conversation and inspire action.

Adults and young people from all community backgrounds are encouraged to participate in our work to build mental health awareness, challenge the big social questions, excavate the fears and celebrate the joys and future potential.


Exe Ensemble has partnered with Libraries Unlimited, Exeter Phoenix and Devon Mind.


This event is an external hire

*Subject to a £1.50 ticketing system charge. We don’t charge this to make a profit. Find out more >>

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