I enjoyed this production, which was played to a pretty small audience - The Duchess was only about a third full - and the acting was very good indeed (well, except the girl who played Lulu didn't quite have me convinced). Whenever you see something for the first time that makes a strong impression (in my case, the BBC TV version) it becomes something of a benchmark, and I would say the production we saw last night didn't quite come up to that benchmark. The TV play, if I remember correctly, was far less emotive, more subtle, and that made it far more sinister, which is what grabbed me, I think. I didn't come away from last night's production with that same feeling. Perhaps it was because they played up the comedy a little more, or perhaps because it wasn't quite as deadpan as I remember from 1987.
But it was good - it's a fantastic play (despite the fact that at least four people left at the interval, but The Birthday Party can have that effect - or maybe they're just not used to three-act plays, and thought it had ended). Henry Goodman played Goldberg, Eileen Atkins played Meg and Paul Ritter played Stanley, giving a very strong performance of a man right on the edge.