Preview: Celebration, Albery Theatre, London WC2

Celebrating a birthday - and a Nobel
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

To celebrate Harold Pinter's 75th birthday and his receipt of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, which he will pick up in Stockholm on 10 December, a stellar cast including Michael Gambon, Sinead Cusack, Jeremy Irons, Charles Dance, Janie Dee, Stephen Rea, Kenneth Cranham, and Penelope Wilton will gather to read his play Celebration at the Albery Theatre in London.

Pinter directed his recent play Celebration in a double-bill with his first, The Room, at the Almeida Theatre in 2000. This time Pinter, who "has had a helping hand" in picking the cast, will watch from the sidelines. Set in a swanky West End restaurant, the play concerns three couples, each person ruthlessly manouevring to meet their own need.

"With no distractions of props or furniture, the audience can just listen to the words of the play," says Michael Colgan, the artistic director of the Gate Theatre, Dublin, and the event's organiser. "Most of the actors have previously been in Pinter's plays. These people are grateful to him and also fond of him."

The Gate has housed two festivals of his work, and also curated a third at the Lincoln Center, New York, in 2001. The Gate marked Pinter's 75th birthday by putting on two of his plays, Old Times and Betrayal, and held a special birthday weekend for him, where he was surrounded by friends and admirers, including Derek Jacobi and Tom Stoppard, who read from a selection of his work. "This was as much a celebration of him surviving cancer as anything else," says Colgan.

Pinter, who is also a director, actor, poet and political activist, has written 29 plays, including the modern classics The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, and 21 screenplays, including The Servant and The French Lieutenant's Woman. After being awarded the Nobel, he said: "I can't really articulate what I feel. I'm just bowled over. I have no words at the moment. I shall have words by the time I get to Stockholm."

1 to 3 December (0870 950 0920)

Comments