I adore Pinter so I didn’t want to miss BRIDGE REP’s inaugural production of THE LOVER. Pinter’s famous pauses sometimes trip actors up, not to mention the havoc British accents sometimes wreak – but I’m happy to report that BRIDGE REP gets it precisely right. What’s more, they perform it without the British accents and to my surprise, it works…maybe it even intensifies the piece by making it American.
I’ve seen THE LOVER many times and it’s never seemed so visceral or so scary. Director Shana Gozansky slowly amps up the emotions, with superb performances from McCaela Donovan as the wife, from Joe Short as the husband and a hilarious cameo from Juan C. Rodriguez, as the milk and egg man.
Pinter sets clear boundaries in the very first scene, when husband and wife acknowledge that they each have a lover but that part of their day is compartmentalized, away and apart from their very civilized, very proper marriage. Things get out of hand when those boundaries begin to blur and status quo is compromised. The fear on Donovan’s face is palpable when the rules change and she’s at sea, not knowing how to react. I don’t want to give away Pinter’s conceit: I’ll only say that the performances are riveting.
Luke Sutherland’s sleek, minimalist set, with its sumptuous velvet curtains and elegant dinnerware, dovetails perfectly with the stylized formality of the first scene (when husband and wife perform the synchronized ritual of dressing – and end up wearing almost the same outfit!) Ed Young’s choice of Motown is delightful and apt…and his eerie, sloshy soundscape nicely ratchets up the suspense. What a debut! I can’t wait to see what BRIDGE REP tackles next.