Pearl Mackie takes her final bow as Doctor Who companion Bill Potts in this year’s Christmas special but she’ll be back in a new role just days later for the 60th anniversary West End production of Harold Pinter’s acclaimed play The Birthday Party, starting on 9th January at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Mackie is starring alongside Stephen Mangan and two fellow Doctor Who alumni, Toby Jones and Zoë Wanamaker, and told RadioTimes.com she was thrilled to be taking on such a “classic” play alongside such high calibre stars.
“Pinter’s just great,” said Mackie. “It’s one of those things that’s just so exciting to get your teeth into as an actor – his characters are so rich and there’s so much that isn’t said, it’s so exciting to explore.
“The cast are phenomenal,” she added. “I’m so excited to be in the room with them, let alone actually share a stage with them – I think it will be incredible.”
The Birthday Party follows the arrival of two enigmatic strangers – Mangan’s Goldberg and his as yet uncast companion McCann – at a seaside boarding house. Jones plays beleaguered lodger Stanley Webber with Wanamaker as his landlady Meg in a darkly comic tale laced with mystery and menace.
Mackie is Lulu, a young woman who attends the eponymous party and whose background and motives are – like all the characters’ – enigmatic.
“I’m still figuring out what she wants,” said Mackie of Lulu. “She comes to the house quite a lot, she clearly knows them quite well but she’s quite a lot younger than them and she seems like she wants to get out of there but doesn’t end up leaving at all – [despite being] presented with quite a few opportunities.
“She’s quite enamoured by one of the visitors and I think it’s going to be fun to play with that with Stephen Mangan, which is amazing.”
Mackie was equally excited about working with the play’s director Ian Rickson, whose acclaimed 2011 production of Pinter’s Betrayal she said had so impressed her.
“I love Pinter, we studied Betrayal at drama school and then I saw the production that Ian Rickson did of it a few years ago, and didn’t realise that he’d directed it at the time, and then once I got invited to audition for this I was ‘wow, that’s incredible’, because that production was phenomenal.
“In the audition with Ian we just really clicked… he’s got some amazing ideas as to why it’s really relevant to put the play on now and was really interested in what I had to say about Lulu and about what she wants, why she’s there and what her purpose is within the whole story.”
Theatregoers will be able to delve into that mystery themselves when the production arrives in the West End next year…
The Birthday Party runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London from Tuesday 9th January to Saturday 14th April 2018