Archiv der Kategorie: Ian Rickson

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Harold Pinter: The Birthday Party, Harold Pinter Theatre, London (Director: Ian Rickson)

By Sascha Krieger

60 years ago, a future Nobel laureate produced one of the biggest flops of the London theatre seasons. After The Birthday Party, his second play, opened at the Lyric Hammersmith, it was universally panned by critics and cancelled after just eight performances. Today the play is regarded as a modern classic, one of the most important plays of the second half of the 20th century. For it’s 60th birthday (!), director Ian Rickson sets out to prove it still has life in it. Not an easy task as Pinter has always been a difficult author to stage, positioned somewhere between the „classic“ absurdists like Beckett or Ionesco (two vastly different authors, admittedly), whose dramatic universe where abstract, removed, distorted parallel worlds in which logic was absent and other replaced by a sense of life as being absurd in nature, and authors like Albee who found the absurd in everyday life, in the way we treat each other, interact, communicate. Pinter had a bit of both: his plays, The Birthday Party being a prime example, are often rooted in everyday reality but are pierced with a sense of the absurd, the unexplainable, the illogical. It is as if the Ionesco universe broke into Albee’s and the two became one. Balancing the abstract and the realistic, the symbolic and the literal is the key task for any Pinter production.

Image: Sascha Krieger

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When the World Is Closing In

Edward Albee: The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London (Director: Ian Rickson)

By Sascha Krieger

„Notes toward a definition of tragedy“. This is the subtitle Edward Albee gave his 2002 Tony and Pulitzer winning play The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? What he was clearly interested in here is how the Aristotelian idea of tragedy can relate to and be transported into our enlightened, free, individualistic and democratic present days? A great man’s downfall at the hands of fate due to transgressions he might not even be in control of – how is that even conceivable today? He wasn’t the first to ask these questions in the modern age: Tennessee Williams‘ plays often test tragedic structure – interestingly often with female characters in the „hero’s“ role – Arthur Miller conceived Death of a Salesman as a modern tragedy, replacing the „great“ with the „ordinary“ man. Albee’s focus is different: he looks at what a „transgression“ triggering the mechanics of tragedy might be today and he asks society whether it has completely shade its taboo-enhancing, punishing nature yet. The answers he comes up with in The Goat are rather terrifying.

Theatre Royal Haymarket (Image: Sascha Krieger)

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