The role of the menacing Goldberg marks a return to serious territory for Goodman, who won widespread plaudits for his Shylock in the National Theatre’s 1999 staging of The Merchant of Venice. Since then the London-born actor’s stage work has mostly been in musicals and comedies, including Alistair Beaton’s political satire Feelgood, Sondheim’s Follies at the Royal Festival Hall. Goodman famously followed Nathan Lane as Max in The Producers on Broadway only to be fired before facing the press.
Eileen Atkins has been steadily raising a profile, which is already sky-high in theatre circles recently, with some eye-catching roles in such films as Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” and Mira Nair’s “Vanity Fair.” She also acted in HBO’s 2001 television adaptation of Margaret Edison’s play Wit. Atkins’ many prizes include the 2004 Olivier Award for her performance in Honour at the National, and the same year saw her nominated for a Tony for her work in The Retreat From Moscow on Broadway.
The show will be directed by Lindsay Posner and produced by Duncan C. Weldon. It will play warm-up dates in Birmingham (beginning March 11), Bath and Malvern before setting up shop in Theatreland.
Despite the fact that contemporary critics dismissed The Birthday Party on its premiere in 1958, the play went on to establish Pinter as a major playwright, and has been enduringly popular in the U.K. ever since. The last West End production was in 1999, when husband and wife Prunella Scales and Timothy West starred. Other major revivals include a 1994 National Theatre production directed by Sam Mendes, starring Dora Bryan.