Because of this vivid past, as well as the play's narrative ambiguity, it's not a stretch to see in it a little allegory about the state of modern man in poor Stanley, who in Brassard's devastating portrayal declines from lugubrious, insecure sarcasm to abject terror to drooling catatonia. This man lives in fear of the future, reconfigures the past, and is worn down by the banalities and vague threats of the present. Such dark irony, then, in Goldberg's exclamation: "What a thing to celebrate — a birth!"

Megan Grumbling can be reached at mgrumbling@hotmail.com.

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY | by Harold Pinter | Directed by Michael Howard | Produced by Acorn Productions, in Westbrook | through March 11 | 207.854.0065

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