The Lover and The Collection

The Collection: Original Television Presentation 1961

The Collection: Original London West End Production 1962 at the Aldwych Theatre

The Lover: Original Television Presentation 1963

The Lover: Original London Production 1963 at the Arts Theatre

The Lover: London Revival 1987 at the Young Vic Theatre

The Collection: London Revival 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

The Lover: London Revival 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

The Lover: Original London West End Production 2008 at the Comedy Theatre

The Collection: 1st London West End Revival 2008 at the Comedy Theatre

The Lover: 1st London West End Revival 2018 at the Harold Pinter Theatre

The Collection: 2nd London West End Revival 2018 at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Plays by Harold Pinter. The Lover: Behind closed suburban doors, a couple's desires are unlocked, unzipped and undressed in unconventional circumstances. The Collection: The intriguing mystery of two London couples linked by sexual desire when a confession of adultery leads to an intriguing battle of suspicion, and a quest for supremacy.


The Collection: Original Television Presentation 1961

Television Broadcast: ITV, May 11, 1961

The cast featured Griffith Jones as 'Harry', John Ronane as 'Bill', Anthony Bate as 'James', and Vivien Merchant as 'Stella'

Directed by Joan Kemp-Welch with designs by Fred Pusey.


The Collection: Original London West End Production 1962 at the Aldwych Theatre

Opened 18 June 1962, Closed 25 September 1962 (in repertory) at the Aldwych Theatre

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in a double-bill with Strindberg's Playing with Fire.

The cast featured Michael Hordern as 'Harry', John Ronane as 'Bill', Kenneth Haigh as 'James', and Barbara Murray as 'Stella'.

Directed by Peter Hall and Harold Pinter, with designs by Paul Anstee and John Bury


The Lover: Original Television Presentation 1963

Television Broadcast: ITV, March 28, 1963

The cast featured Alan Badel as 'Richard', Vivien Merchant as 'Sarah', and Michael Forrest as 'Milkman (John)'.

Directed by Joan Kemp-Welch with designs by Fred Pusey and music by Denis Lopez.


The Lover: Original London Production 1963 at the Arts Theatre

Opened 18 September 1963, Closed 5 October 1963 at the Arts Theatre

Presented as a double-bill with Harold Pinter's The Dwarfs.

The cast featured Scott Forbes as 'Richard', Vivien Merchant as 'Sarah', and Michael Forrest as 'John'.

Directed by Harold Pinter with designs by Brian Currah.


The Lover: London Revival 1987 at the Young Vic Theatre

Previewed 23 June 1987, Opened 24 June 1987, Closed 25 July 1987 at the Young Vic Theatre

Presented by the Vienna English Theatre Company in a double bill with Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache.

The cast featured Simon Williams as 'Richard', Judy Buxton as 'Sarah', and Malcolm Ward as 'John'.

Directed by Kevin Billington with designs by John Halle.


The Collection: London Revival 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

Previewed 7 May 1998, Opened 13 May 1998, Closed 13 June 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

Presented as a triple-bill under the title 3 by Pinter with A Kind of Alaska and The Lover.

The cast featured Harold Pinter as 'Harry', Colin McFarlane as 'Bill', Douglas Hodge as 'James', and Lia Williams as 'Stella'.

Directed by Joe Harmston with designs by Tom Rand, lighting by Robert Bryan and sound by John A Leonard.

Although presented and marketed as a 'triple-bill' - A Kind of Alaska was actually presented as a separate performance starting at 7.00pm (2.00pm matinees) with a separate ticket required to be purchased. It was then followed at 8.15pm (3.15pm matinees) by The Collection/The Lover.


The Lover: London Revival 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

Previewed 7 May 1998, Opened 13 May 1998, Closed 13 June 1998 at the Donmar Warehouse

Presented as a triple-bill under the title 3 by Pinter with A Kind of Alaska and The Collection.

The cast featured Douglas Hodge as 'Richard', Lia Williams as 'Sarah', and Colin McFarlane as 'John'.

Directed by Joe Harmston with designs by Tom Rand, lighting by Robert Bryan and sound by John A Leonard.

Although presented and marketed as a 'triple-bill' - A Kind of Alaska was actually presented as a separate performance starting at 7.00pm (2.00pm matinees) with a separate ticket required to be purchased. It was then followed at 8.15pm (3.15pm matinees) by The Collection/The Lover.


The Lover: Original London West End Production 2008 at the Comedy Theatre

Previewed 15 January 2008, Opened 29 January 2008, Closed 3 May 2008 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)

Presented as a double-bill with The Collection.

The cast featured Richard Coyle as 'Richard', Gina McKee as 'Sarah', and Charlie Cox as 'John'.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by Jon Clark, and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham.

"The official start time was 7.00pm. The proceedings didn't actually commence until 7.20pm. That is a long silence even by Harold's standards. Maybe the cast simply couldn't face having to perform these two woefully dated works. If so, then I can sympathise. Both plays clunk along like old episodes of Tales of the Unexpected. Clunk one in The Lover comes when Sarah (Gina McKee) breezily announces that her lover is coming to visit and would her husband be kind enough to keep away from the house while he is with her. Clunk two: her husband Richard (Richard Coyle) is happy to oblige, and, what's more, he has a whore whom he regularly visits himself. And then comes what one can only call the clunkety-clunk: actually, it's all a bit of a laugh because no third parties are involved. The couple are merely role-playing to enliven their two-year marriage. Neither play has anything of any great insight to say on the subject of infidelity. The cast - together with their director Jamie Lloyd - seem to know this all too well... It seems to me that if the idea behind a play is strong enough then it ought to be able to sustain the requisite two hours or so. Two half-plays do not make a full Pinter." The Sunday Telegraph

"Sarah (Gina McKee) is a horsey suburban wife and Richard (Richard Coyle) her City husband. She has an afternoon lover, he has an afternoon tart. When hubby is at the office, she changes into something less comfortable and awaits her fancy man - who, of course, is Richard, easing a leather jacket over his pinstripes and calling himself Max. Nowadays, they'd be dogging behind Datchet services; here they role-play. There's some highly charged play with drums, and, after he has fingered the bongos, they disappear under the table. What is horribly plausible is that neither is turned on by the dress-up lover so much as by the person they themselves briefly become. As Sarah, McKee slides into her call-girl heels with a kittenish shiver. However tired the game, at least it's not their middle-class reality. McKee looks so pale, as if she has never left her show home, attending to the blinds as if adjusting the bars on her cage... For all the carry-on, these are lonely plays." The Sunday Times

"Set in a middle-class house, it concerns the apparent sophistication with which a respectable couple deal with their love affairs. The opening line, as Richard (Richard Coyle) takes leave of his wife Sarah (Gina McKee) with a jaunty, "Is your lover coming today?", still has the power to surprise. It remains a brilliantly-structured play about role-playing and the alternating currents of sexual power in a marriage... Both McKee and Coyle catch the tone of light-but-brittle artificiality perfectly and their timing - so crucial in the playwright's work - is bang on. What's more, it is very funny. The sinister aura of menacing sexuality has given way to something more amusing and director Jamie Lloyd emphasises the bizarre elements like the bongo drums." The Daily Express


The Collection: 1st London West End Revival 2008 at the Comedy Theatre

Previewed 15 January 2008, Opened 29 January 2008, Closed 3 May 2008 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)

Presented as a double-bill with The Lover.

The cast featured Timothy West as 'Harry', Charlie Cox as 'Bill', Richard Coyle as 'James', and Gina McKee as 'Stella'.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by Jon Clark, and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham.

"Stella may have slept with Bill in a Leeds hotel, or not; her jealous husband and his older boyfriend (Timothy West) uncover and obfuscate the truth. Given how little fun anyone has here, chances are nothing happened. Facts seem less important than desperate speculation. Cuckold turns stalker, as the husband (Richard Coyle) becomes obsessed with laughing boy Bill (Charlie Cox) and returns home to taunt Stella (Gina McKee) about their new friend: 'A man's man. Straight from the shoulder.' Everyone speaks fluent innuendo: "I bet you're a wow at parties." Even the props are saucy - Bill takes a tumble over the pouf and gets his cardigan wet. The play is often taken to have a homoerotic subtext, but with nervy dialogue taking place at crotch level, I'm not sure subtext is the word. With everyone fibbing their tongues dry, bodies may offer a scrap of truth." The Sunday Times

"The epithet Pinteresque suggests ambiguity, elusiveness and highly charged conversation riddled with pregnant pauses. But Pinters plays can also be a tease, fabulously, if fitfully, funny, and always at someones expense. Jamie Lloyds beautifully performed pair of Sixties television plays, The Lover and The Collection, are staged as authentic period pieces, but while the manners and mannerisms have dated, there's nothing old-fashioned about the games the characters are playing... The sexual jealously is more explicit in The Collection, in which an old, gay gent, Harry, thinks his young protege, Bill, has spent the night with a neighbour, Stella, in a hotel room in Leeds. As does Stella's husband, James. But the scenario becomes complicated by the outrageous flirting that goes on when James confronts Bill. A sphinx-like McKee knows all and reveals nothing, hugging her secret until thelast minute and beyond." The Mail on Sunday

"Written a year earlier in 1962, The Collection seems more complete and wideranging, dealing with a strange household in which an older man, Harry (Timothy West), lives with a young buck Bill (Charlie Cox). When Bill starts to get phone calls and visits from another man, James (Richard Coyle), the scene is set for a series of shifting encounters that may or may not involve an act of infidelity in a Leeds hotel. Rather more sinister in tone than The Lover and stretching the boundaries of sexuality further, The Collection is a hugely enjoyable psycho-mystery. Riddled with class conflict and the fragility of social structures, the plays highlight Pinter's festishisation of language and are welcome revivals of his early work. Immensely satisfying." The Daily Express


The Lover: 1st London West End Revival 2018 at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Previewed 13 September 2018, Opened 27 September 2018, Closed 20 October 2018 in repertory) at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Presented as a double-bill under the title Pinter 2 with The Collection.

The cast featured John Macmillan as 'Richard', Hayley Squires as 'Sarah', and Russell Tovey as 'John'.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Jon Clark, and music and sound by George Dennis.

When this production opened in September 2018, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard said it "portrays a seemingly dull husband and wife who in fact thrive on fantasy and role play. Jamie Lloyd is in his element here, dialling up the absurdity, and John MacMillan and Hayley Squires nicely capture the charactersí double nature." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph highlighted that how "itís performed with tremendous brio by John Macmillan and Hayley Squires. Jamie Lloyd underlines, through excessively mannered period accents and the overtly artificial set, that thereís not a jot of space into which affectation hasnít crept; yet it is affecting all the same." Ann Treneman in the Times thought that "the set, candyfloss pink, with the crucial Pinter drinks trolley in full flow, is a delight as are stars John Macmillan and Hayley Squires." Michael Billington in the Guardian commented that "Hayley Squires stylishly plays a decorous suburbanite who adapts to afternoon erotic role-play in a way that totally defeats John Macmillan as her fraught husband." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times wrote that "John MacMillan and Hayley Squires relish the contrast in Jamie Lloydís archly comic production, while also suggesting the dangers in the game." Neil Norman in the Daily Express explained that the play "is an enigmatic comedy drama about a virtuous couple whose sex life is spiced up by a mysterious lover who has afternoon trysts with the wife. It is teasingly erotic even if director Jamie Lloyd turns it into a pink marshmallow episode of I Love Lucy, so it loses its sting." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail described it as being "an absurdist comedy about a staid suburban couple featuring a jolly John Macmillan and a saucy Hayley Squires."


The Collection: 2nd London West End Revival 2018 at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Previewed 13 September 2018, Opened 27 September 2018, Closed 20 October 2018 in repertory) at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Presented as a double-bill under the title Pinter 2 with The Lover.

The cast featured David Suchet as 'Harry', Russell Tovey as 'Bill', John Macmillan as 'James', and Hayley Squires as 'Stella'.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour with lighting by Jon Clark, and music and sound by George Dennis.

When this production opened in September 2018, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard thought that, as a "study of hidden lives and infidelity, it has a velvety atmosphere and moments of ripe humour. Itís also, like Pinterís best work, full of menace, mystery and wickedly barbed one-liners." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times highlighted that "Russell Tovey is hugely enjoyable as one of the objects of desire, a musclebound bisexual fashion designer who toys with both his rich, besotted older partner (David Suchet, magnificent) and the husband (John MacMillan) who accuses him. Watching these three men vie for control is like watching lions in a cage." Ann Treneman in the Times described it as being "a strange and menacing tale about two couples, one gay, one straight, who have a series of almost painful meetings after one husband confronts another, insisting that he had slept with his wife at a conference in Leeds. David Suchet is the aging Harry, a man who likes to wear a short cape and will do anything to hold on to his younger man. The breakfast scene between them is a joy. You really do have to laugh, or else you might cry." Neil Norman in the Daily Express explained that "with David Suchet stealing the show as a fastidious queen whose young toyboy fashion designer (Russell Tovey, all muscles and attitude) is accused of a fling with a married woman. This is perfect Pinter, existing in its own hermetically sealed period and beautifully performed by all with the exception of the cat who objected to being poked by Suchetís fingers. Meow!" Michael Billington in the Guardian said that it "boasts fine performances from Russell Tovey, as a cocksure dress-designer who may or may not have spent the night with Hayley Squires in Leeds, and from David Suchet as a flouncy gay man: a Quentin, you might say, done to a crisp." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph commented that this "serves as another invaluable Pinter primer Ė introducing us to the lethal deadpan, the tactical enigma, the warring (and fragile) masculinity and the toxic civilised veneer he made his stock-in-trade... It all has a terrific proto Orton-esque loucheness to it; and David Suchet is a hoot as the sinister Harry, snapping every syllable, a querulous dandy-poseur." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail wrote that "these are high quality Pinter productions and should not be missed by Pinter loyalists. But despite bold, voguish make-overs, the plays have grown inconsequential and dated."