Katherine H. Burkman

Ohio State University, U.S.A.
Katherine H. Burkman is a Professor Emeritus of English from The Ohio State University, who has published widely on modern drama, especially on the plays of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. Her most recent book, a collection of essays co-edited with Judith Roof, is Staging the Rage: The Web of Misogyny in Modern Drama (Fairley Dickinson UP, 1998). She has also directed two plays by Harold Pinter, Moonlight and Ashes to Ashes, for Women at Play, a group of women playwrights and performers in Columbus, Ohio, for whom she is the artistic coordinator.

Articles de l'auteur

Cycnos | Volume 18 n°1

Desperation in Harold Pinter’s Celebration

Harold Pinter’s 2000 drama, Celebration, is a cautionary play for the new millennium which anatomizes the empty lives of three couples dining at an elegant restaurant in London. At one table, two sisters, Julie and Prue, married to brothers, Lambert and Matt, are ostensibly celebrating the anniversary of one of the couples, but they seem neither to care about each other nor to know what play, opera, or concert they have just attended. Suki and Russell, sitting at another table, are only a variation on the other couples, all of which is revealed in a very comic fashion as the three couples interact with a Hostess, a Maitre d’ and a Waiter. Incest is added to ignorance, not only suggested by the sisters married to brothers, but also by the women’s hostile suggestions that their husbands are all bound up with their mothers. The misogyny of the men is clearly matched by the misandry of the women as all struggle for power, and the men’s positions as strategy consultants and a banker are comically ominous, recalling Pinter’s more overtly political plays. The memories of Lambert of a lost love, who turns out to be Suki, enhance the sense of desperation that is the subtext of this celebration, and the Waiter’s comic fantasies about his grandfather, which he “introjects” from time to time, suggest a lost culture and lost values that he longs to recapture. The play finally goes beyond satire to end in a sense of mystery about life and death which the Waiter seems to feel deeply and on some level to accept.

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