LTP Student, Josh Rubenstein from Brandeis University, reviews The Lover/ The Collection at the Harold Pinter Theatre, as part of his work in Dramatic Criticism class.  

This season at the Harold Pinter Theatre marks the 10 year anniversary of Nobel-Prize winning Playwright Harold Pinter’s death in 2008 and is made up of seven combined productions encapsulating the complete short plays of Harold Pinter. This second collection, running until October 20, is entitled “Pinter Two” and includes The Lover and Collection, written in 1961 and 1962 respectively, on a double bill. Both pieces are directed by Jamie Lloyd and produced by The Jamie Lloyd Company. The Lover features John MacMillan and Hayley Squires as a married couple, Richard and Sarah, with a delightful appetizer cameo from Russell Tovey as “the milkman”. It chronicles the quirks of a long-term married couple and the dark and emotional games they play to keep their marriage vital. MacMillan and Squires return in The Collection, this time sharing the stage with David Suchet and more fully with Russell Tovey. Sharing themes with The Lover, The Collection takes the subconscious fears and insecurities from the first piece and projects them into a concrete scenario of lies, cheating, and deception.

Pinter’s scripts are just as human and psychologically riveting as ever. This production interprets them and renews their charm with innovative sets, lighting, and acting. Of the two pieces, The Lover is the more successful. Its set of a pink suburban ideal and use of clock imagery both literally and figuratively through the clock on the upstage wall and the couple running around the table chasing each other was well implemented and added a layer to the visual storytelling.

The only weakness in Pinter Two is the discrepancy in visual tone and acting styles between The Lover and The Collection. Whereas The Lover utilized lighting design in its storytelling successfully, The Collection is, in contrast, much darker, both in lighting and tone. Tovey and Suchet’s presence and acting styles don’t necessarily fit into the expectation set by The Lover, but can be enjoyed on its own.

The stand out performances of the night are John MacMillan and Hayley Squires as Richard and Sarah in The Lover. Her subtle zaniness is a cover for something much more sinister and simultaneously charming. Her performance was incredibly engaging. Suchet exudes a vulnerability and displays masterful comedic timing that one would expect from a veteran actor who has spent the last fifty years performing on the British stage.

The full run-time is two hours, including interval. Pinter Two runs until October 20th, when it will be replaced by Pinter Three. With an affordable ticket price and a skillful blend of dark and light psychological comedy, Pinter Two is not to be missed.

By Josh Rubenstein
Photo credit: Marc Brenner