by Harold Pinter
The Late, Great Pinter
Two off-Loop productions pay fitting tribute
By Albert Williams/Chicago Reader
“AstonRep Theatre Company’s 4Pinter program, meanwhile, is a well-acted sampling of short works from different periods in Pinter’s career, including quirky sketches he wrote while he was in his 20s. Among these is Trouble in the Works (1959), a hilarious spoof of labor-management relations that recalls the best efforts of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Also represented are bluntly political pieces of more recent vintage, including Press Conference (2002), a satire of Bush-era doublespeak. Addressing a crowd of sycophantic reporters in an unnamed country, the Minister of Culture—and former head of the secret police—holds forth about the need to safeguard the security of “a culture based on the rule of law” and free-market capitalism by suppressing dissent and abrogating human rights.
The centerpiece of the evening is the 1962 one-act The Lover, one of Pinter’s best works. Anticipating Old Times, this satire of how we compartmentalize our feelings focuses on Richard and Sarah, whose tepid marriage is goosed by the intrusion of a third character: Sarah’s lover, whom she meets every afternoon for illicit trysts. Spoiler alert: the trick is that husband and lover are one and the same. Sarah’s infidelity turns out to be a complex game of sexual role-playing—but the strategem begins to fail when the titillating fantasy of afternoon sex spills over into the couple’s real-life relationship. Under Robert Tobin’s direction, Ray and Amy Kasper skillfully convey the urgent need that underlies the couple’s comically kinky arrangement.”
Stage Management/Set Design – Jeremiah Barr
Lighting Design – Samantha Barr
Dramaturgy – Amy Kasper
Graphic Design – Lea Tobin
Photography – Gerard Jamroz