Unraveling a Pinter Love Puzzle

Notes from director Jerry Mouawad on the first rehearsals of Harold Pinter’s The Lover opening at Imago in December.

SPOILER ALERT: This blog post reveals twist and turns of The Lover playing at Imago in December (in repertoire with FROGZ.)

The title of this blog is the way I felt after we spent our first four hours rehearsing for Harold Pinters “The Lover” opening at Imago in December (in rep with FROGZ.)

With the lead actors Anne Sorce and Jeffrey Gilpin I began my early explorations of the play. When first reading the play one could simply interpret it as a kinky couple role playing their lives in order to keep their marriage exciting. Each having a lover (that is actually their spouse.) However, I was suprised to come away from the first rehearsal with something very far from my earlier impression and one much richer.

Mind you, I was blessed with two actors who agreed to use their own sweat equity to be off book (know all their lines) by the first rehearsal. Granted they were somewhat fortunate that it’s a short play (a lengthy one act) but still what a great benefit to a director! I was pleased to sit down at a table and within 5 minutes of chit chat ‘how you been?” Anne and Jeffrey delivered their lines and I watched a rehearsal that was a first performance of two actors that had spent a month learning their lines but more importantly mining the play.

By the end of the rehearsal what I had conjured in my mind was an interpretation of the play in which Pinter’s is celebrating love, sex and the ambiguity of identity with the dangers and cliffs falls of relationships. The Lover is not a play about a failing or challenged marriage or a marriage in need of kinky games to keep love alive, but the opposite. Two courageous, intellectual and passionate people who have made a marriage pact that their love would be celebrated, lived, challenged and in continual surprise with the introduction of personalities that become archetypical of male and female love identities and their paradoxes– and most importantly to always change, surprise one another and celebrate flexibility of identity. A different kind of marriage and a startling one. This play may have been written in the early sixties when sexual awakening of the 60’s was beginning to awaken but its intellectual and romantic forays are far more advanced than the ideology of free love.

It is yet early in the process of our rehearsals and if these early impression of the play holds steady I will be surprised – this piece has many possible interpretations.

The Lover plays Dec 5 to 21st at Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th


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