‘Party Time’ has been called the play in which Harold Pinter finally constructed a bridge between his dramatic world and the world of his political conscience.
This 1991 play is among the playwright’s more overtly political plays – as distinct from his earlier ‘Pinteresque’ ones. It explores the subjects of torture, injustice, interrogation and social oppression through specific and actual political situations.
Copenhagen’s newest professional, primarily English-speaking theatre company Down the Rabbit Hole has seen fit to rethink the play in light of the current cultural moment. Think the #Metoo or #TimesUp movements and the surprising fact that Margaret Atwood is a household name among millennials due to a combination of Trump and a dystopian novel written more than 30 years ago.
However, Hulu’s popular adaptation of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, a dystopian portrait of a sexist world of forced surrogate motherhood, is only one of the ways in which the battle of the sexes has gained serious cultural and social momentum in recent years.
In its present incarnation, ‘Party Time’ unfolds in a society led by women, for the benefit of women and composed solely by women – as the Bill of Rights has it.
Male Privilege has been forcibly ‘removed’ by state mandate, rendering men the possessions of women who may legally use them for whatever purpose they see fit. A male NOT ‘registered’ by a woman is a kind of unpersoned rogue, in Orwellian terms, who ”shall not be deemed fit for employment, habitation, co-habitation, nor public appearance”. Women are, of course, solely in charge of all financial interactions.
In this radical-feminist utopian dictatorship microaggressions against women are rampant, according to the propaganda machine, and this is easily proven. because only women enjoy the presumption of innocence. Men are toxic aggressors by chromosomal necessity, so their civil rights and protections have been officially suspended. ”The Second Republic thanks you for your consent”!
Like its 1991 source text, the present drama is steeped in the refusal of the empowered to admit the truth of state-sponsored violence and oppression. It also retains some of Pinter’s original analysis of the ways in which power is defended and wielded through language and ritual – to say nothing of intimidation and the general cult of personality.
Given the modest budget for which this has been pulled off, it’s a surprisingly affecting and visceral watch. In the spirit of ‘the personal is political’, the production blurs the line between actors and audience in a way I shan’t reveal.
And regardless of your attitude as a spectator (or sexual identity, let’s say) you’re immediately and rather mercilessly pulled in and subjected to a frighteningly authentic take on the timeless story about the righteous and the damned and the bitter difficulty of achieving absolution from the latter situation.