LOVER – BRIGHTON
Malies – Plays International Magazine
miles along the coast, venues in Brighton
staged three Pinter productions of varying quality. The Sheffield
Theatres version of The Caretaker at the Theatre Royal is almost
bereft of ideas while, by contrast, Sir Peter Hall’s Old Times at
the same venue is (unsurprisingly) close to flawless. A production
of The Lover in the city’s smallest venue, The Marlborough, by
London-based Bedlamb is also first-rate. It teems with directorial
wit and explores every nuance of the text……..
walked into Brighton’s tiny Marlborough Theatre for the Bedlamb Company’s production
of Pinter’s The Lover, the background music was Rodgers and
Hammerstein’s “No Other Love Have I” which was soon followed
by a Burt Bacharach number that
includes the line “Wives should always be lovers too.” There
are no such directions from the playwright.
Game over. I knew immediately that there were fertile minds at work
here and I was due for a treat. Bedlamb’s actor-director Mike
Stewart may be only a few rungs up the ladder compared with Sir
Peter Hall, but this treatment was always going to be out of the
same drawer as Old Times. An outstanding cast and production team
bring freshness and intelligence to Pinter’s two-hander about sex
games in the suburbs.
The plot is simple: a middle class couple spice up their love life
when the wife pretends to entertain a lover who is in fact her
husband in disguise. Bedlamb take occasional inspired liberties but
always with justification from the text. The initial exchanges
between Richard (Anthony Bull) and Sarah (Kim Sanger White) are
social comedy in which the actors are guilty of over-enunciating but
they still hint at a sexual charge.
As soon as the author reveals his trump narrative card and the
couple begin their role-playing, the production moves up a gear, the
language is pared down and the action becomes erotic and absorbing.
As Larkin reminded us, sexual intercourse probably did begin in
1963, the year of this made-for-television piece’s first
broadcast. But through constant hints that the game could get out of
hand at any moment, Mike Stewart ensures that the production is
never a period piece and at no time do the sexual charades appear
dated or tame, even 44 years on at a bohemian location.”