Exploring the greatest new and classic plays


Claudie Blakley as Sarah, and
David Morrissey as Richard
in The Lover
Theatre Royal Bath
March 2023
Photograph by Nobby Clark

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

Apr 5, 2024 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

We have a double-bill on the programme in this episode – two short plays written by Harold Pinter back in the early 1960s when his fame was very much on the ascendant. The first is The Lover, which initially appears to be a conventional sex comedy involving infidelity in a middle-class marriage, but which contains a twist that turns the play into a darker exploration of sexual compulsion. Pinter’s biographer, the theatre critic Michael Billington, described The Lover as “an absolute gem…one of the most candid and revealing plays about sex in the English language.” It was first written for TV and broadcast in March 1963, before being staged at the Arts theatre in London in September that year, both productions starring Pinter’s then-wife Vivien Merchant as Sarah.

The second play in our double-bill is The Collection, written a year earlier than The Lover, but which also explores the impact of apparent adultery, in this case on the relationships of two couples. All of the parties involved come to promote different versions of events in their attempts to manipulate others, such that they, and we, are left uncertain as to what the truth might be.

The Collection was also first written and presented as a television play in May 1961, and then produced on stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, which Pinter co-directed with Peter Hall, in June 1962. The Financial Times described the play at the time as “an under praised little masterpiece.”

As we record this episode a new production offering a double-bill of both of the plays has just opened at the Theatre Royal in Bath, directed by Lindsay Posner, with David Morrisey leading the cast. Loyal listeners will recall that Lindsay joined me to help pay homage to Michael Frayn’s comic masterpiece Noises Off in episode 58, and I’m delighted to welcome Lindsay back to the podcast to talk about these two Pinter gems.

Other plays by Harold Pinter covered on The Play Podcast:
006 – Betrayal
075 – The Homecoming


Lindsay Posner

Lindsay Posner has a remarkable list of theatrical credits as a director, both in the UK and internationally. Most recently he has directed three productions at the Theatre Royal in Bath, including The Lover and The Collection, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and A View from the Bridge, which transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’d West End. He also has directed Noises Off on two occasions: first at the Old Vic Theatre in 2011, and then again at Theatre Royal Bath in 2022, which as we recorded our episode on the play in January 2023 arrived in London’s West End.

A fuller list of Lindsay’s credits can be found here on his guest page.


Recommended Play

Lindsay recommended People, Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan.

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