And now for something completely different. If you ever played blind man’s buff as a child, you remember it as a kind of tag with a blindfold. Innocent stuff. Not in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, the second act of which features a harrowing game of blind man’s buff played by anything-but-innocent adults. Nothing is as it seems in this three-act conundrum, Pinter’s second play, onstage at Moxie Theatre courtesy of the fledgling New Fortune Theatre company.
The Birthday Party, directed by Richard Baird, is just New Fortune’s second full-length production since last October. While less bold than the Henry V it staged in little ion theatre, New Fortune’s The Birthday Party is a tense affair that, like much of Pinter, raises more questions than it answers. Baird and Henerson play inscrutable hitman types who descend upon what may or may not be a boarding house run by Marcus Overton and the marvelous Dana Hooley. Amanda Schaar and Max Macke (playing the most miserable “birthday” boy you’ll ever see) round out this cast. The Birthday Party is obscure but absorbing.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.