Masquerade opens its theatre season with David K. Barnes’ comedy, Birthday Suit, directed by Anthony Bezzina. The play follows Richard, played by Malcolm Galea, who throws a party for his 40th birthday and invites all his colleagues. The only problem is that the only guests who actually show up are Diane (Tina Rizzo), a new addition to the firm, and her boyfriend Nick (Joe Azzopardi). However, as the night unravels, alcohol comes into play and a vengeful guest arrives; the party soon takes an unexpected turn.
Anthony Bezzina, has once again gone for a comedy with great depth, which has become somewhat of a trademark for the seasoned director. Like in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Zach Braff’s All New People, both of which have been previously directed by anthony, the laughter conceals something much darker. With regards to his latest offering, anthony comments on the relatability of the play: “Have you ever thrown a party and worried that nobody would turn up?” Indeed, much of the play’s humour comes from its awkwardness embodied in the character of Richard who Malcolm Galea describes as “having almost no social skills to speak of and very little concern for what’s going on around him.”
Of course, we all know a Richard, but for some of the other actors the characters are closer to home. Joe Azzopardi, for instance, when commenting on how the play can be an eye-opener for fresh graduates who are now out in the real world, said that his character is exactly who he would have been had he never found his calling in life. “He is someone who is lost and hoping to find some purpose, and who uses humour to deflect his flaws.”Ultimately, the characters in the play are people who are “desperately trying to fit in”, as Tina Rizzo puts it, which explains the controlling nature of her character.
Even though the play does not shy away from complex themes, it is first and foremost a hilarious night out that promises to be incredibly entertaining. Larissa Bonaci who rounds up the cast, sums it up perfectly: “People should watch Birthday Suit because at the end of a long stressful week everyone deserves a good laugh … and a little cry too!”