Harper Joy throws wild ‘Birthday Party’

Mallory Martin

Running through Sunday, April 15, Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” brings a mix of humor, menace, mayhem and student originality to Harper Joy Theater.

Credit: Allie Felt

Written in 1958, and considered a classic piece of Absurdist theatre, “The Birthday Party” tells the story of an odd group of individuals who fall into violent and chaotic behavior during a surprise birthday party.

The play was chosen by director and Associate Professor of Theater Chris Petit for it’s illogicality, confusion and variation from previous Harper Joy selections.

“I love its mix of the real and the absurd. In many ways, we never really know what’s going on in the play, but at the same time, it’s all very familiar,” Petit said. “The language is riddled with clichés  and common turns of phrase, but the characters are constantly contradicting themselves, and you can never really trust that what they say is the truth . . . it reveals something about our nature that is perhaps not pleasant, but certainly worth taking a look at. Also, a big draw for me was the humor. I find this play to be very funny.”

These themes were utilized by sophomore Caleb Turner, who was asked by Petit to compose an original score for the performances.

“This is actually my first time doing any sort of design work for a show as well as my first shot at scoring anything,” said Turner. “My primary inspiration was the play text itself, which has this really surreal and subtly dark quality to it––a vibe I tried to emphasize without overpowering the on-stage action. The show has come together in a really nice way. The cast is absolutely superb, and I have a lot of respect for all the hard work they’ve put in.”

Credit: Allie Felt

The play stars senior theater major Michail-Deyan Georgiv, along with One-Act winner and senior English major Michaela Gianotti, junior theater majors Atanas Atanasov and Jeremy Howell, senior theater major Thomas Knook and first-year Anastasia Greeley.

For Greeley, a Pinter fan, it’s been a great learning experience, and a fun introduction to the Harper Joy Theater.

“‘Birthday Party’ is certainly rather bizarre in many respects, but it has some very funny moments and is a truly fantastic work of art,” she said. “I have learned so much from my fellow actors. They set such a high bar that it’s been intimidating, but they’ve been so welcoming that I can’t help but love going to rehearsal every night.”

“The Birthday Party” runs from Wednesday, April 11 through Sunday, April 15. Tickets can be bought at the box office, or at the door. For information about upcoming performances and the rest of the theater season, check out the Harper Joy website at http://www.whitman.edu/hjt.