Playful Pinter Explores Ambiguous Sexuality

Pinter Two, Harold Pinter Theatre ★★★★☆

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Playful Pinter Explores Ambiguous Sexuality Pinter Two, Harold Pinter Theatre 4
Hayley Squires in Pinter Two at Harold Pinter Theatre
Photo: Marc Brenner

Part two of the Pinter at the Pinter season of one-act plays is a double bill from the early sixties: The Lover and The Collection. Whereas part one bristled with menacing politics, this show is a more playful, comedic exploration of sexuality, albeit with a dark edge.

The Lover is a wittily teasing portrait of a suburban, middle-class couple who indulge in role-playing and fantasy to spice up their sex lives. Hayley Squires’s housewife apparently entertains a ‘lover’ at home at teatime, while John Macmillan’s City worker frequents a ‘whore’, but both are committed to their marriage in an ambivalent piece that questions the boundaries of a relationship.

David Suchet in Pinter Two at Harold Pinter Theatre
Photo Marc Brenner

Squires and Macmillan return as another married couple in The Collection, which also blurs the line between reality and fantasy, or lies, where sexual desire becomes embroiled in power games. He believes that she has had a one-night stand on a business trip with fellow clothes designer Russell Tovey, who lives with an older man (a hilariously camp David Suchet). The play explores the grey areas between hetero-, homo- and bisexuality where it is not clear who is manipulating whom as truth remains elusive.

John Macmilland and Russell Tovey in Pinter Two at Harold Pinter Theatre
Photo: Marc Brenner

Jamie Lloyd’s entertaining production sometimes seems a little too arch, though he has rightly resisted trying to modernise these shows, with Soutra Gilmour’s brightly retro design backed by some jaunty sixties pop music. The plays’ sexual politics may seem a bit outdated, but Pinter’s absurdist humour still seduces.

Pinter Two, Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street,  SW1Y 4DN.  Tickets £15–£99.50, until 20 October 2018.

Last Updated 03 October 2018