#139. In old movies, the phrase “hello lover!” makes me giggle. It doesn’t even matter if the couple has had sex. Its just meant to be a term of endearment. It is the hotter version of “sweets,” “babe” or “honey.” I tried to bring the casualness of the sexy phrase back at my ex’s wedding by introducing my date as “you remember my lover Ed.” I regret not lighting up a cigarette at the time for more impact.
Soul Theatre presents THE LOVER. Richard and Sarah have been married for ten years. Their relationship has become polite civility. They both are seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere. Sarah has taken a lover. Richard is getting-it-on with a trashy whore. The lustful arrangement seems to work until one of them decides to break it off with their sexual fantasy. Now, who lusts who? And is there still room for love? THE LOVER is a sultry deconstruction of a marriage.
Playwright Harold Pinter penned a versatile lust story. The set-up is clever. The dialogue is provocative. The genius of Pinter is this play could be interpreted as a playful satire or a darker eroticism. Director Paul Wagner chooses the dramatic angle. Designer Jake Bray dims the lights to set the mood. Costume Designer Skye Geerts adds to the roleplaying with the 1950‘s suburban-esque dress contrasting the zipped, silky, 3 inch heeled Fredericks of Hollywood. Scenic designer Grant Sabin goes masculine chic with a leather couch and a dressing room. And Sound Designer Christopher Dunn-Rankin adds in some primitive, carnage-craving music. It has all the makings of high-class porn. (Spoiler alert: no nudity.)
Wagner paces it with slow and sometimes stilted foreplay. There is steamy titillation but there’s also a why-did-you-put-that-there moment. A milkman arrives in a scene. But instead of amusing and ironical, it feels odd. The couple, Ravi Batista and Mick Weber are the lovers. Their *real life* significant others should be jealous. Batista and Weber ignite the room with sensual heat. In one scene where they play a whirlwind of sexual escapades, Weber commands the stage with his ever-changing personas. Wagner has Batista deliver a more affected performance. Whereas I believe a fearful Weber is losing himself in the dark make-believe, I see Batista as always in control of her role-playing and her reaction. Although Wagner has Weber blurring the lines of realism and pretend, he has Batista stay more on the surface of emotional upheaval. It’s makes for some awkward foreplay amongst steamy moments.
THE LOVER dissects relational woes. Sex with a stranger is easy and anonymous. Sex with someone who knows your faults is hard and personal. THE LOVER will prod you to examine your sex life for love and lust flaws.
Post show, Soul Theatre has a variety of different events scheduled to couple the evening off. The night I went, it was “sex, yoga, and chocolate.” On July 12th, there will be a life coach talking about “sex, dating and relationships.” And the run ends with a “lap dance class.” These encore opportunities could be a spicy catalyst for you and your lover.
Running Time: Fifty-five minutes with no intermission
At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Street
Written by Harold Pinter
Directed by Paul Wagner
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru July 15th
Buy Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/251297