The Lover (play)

The Lover is a 1962 one-act play by Harold Pinter, originally written for television, but subsequently performed on stage.[1] The play contrasts bourgeois domesticity with sexual yearning.[2]

The Lover
The Lover (play).jpg
Opening title ITV, 1963
Written byHarold Pinter
Date premiered28 March 1963 (1963-03-28)
Place premieredITV
Original languageEnglish
GenreOne-act play

As with the drama of Anton Chekhov, some of Pinter's plays support "serious" and "comic" interpretations; The Lover has been staged successfully both as an ironic comedy on the one hand and as a nervy drama on the other.[3][4] As is often the case with Pinter, the play probably contains both.[5]


Pinter leads the audience to believe that there are three characters in the play: the wife, the husband and the lover. But the lover who comes to call in the afternoons is revealed to be the husband adopting a role. He plays the lover for her: she plays the whore for him. As the play goes on the man (first as the lover and then as the husband) expresses a wish to stop the pretend adultery, to the dismay of the woman. Finally, the husband suddenly switches back to the role of the lover.

Original productionEdit

The play originally premiered in a 60 minute TV production directed by Joan Kemp-Welch for Associated-Rediffusion, transmitted by ITV on 28 March 1963.[6]

Original London stage productionEdit

It opened at the Arts Theatre on 18 September 1963 in a production by the author, as part of a double bill with his play The Dwarfs; and closed on 5 October.[7]

  • Richard - Scott Forbes
  • Sarah - Vivien Merchant
  • John - Michael Forrest
Critical reception

The Financial Times wrote "The little play works simply beautifully, like a perfectly adjusted piece of miniature machinery, except that machinery is dead and this play is scintillating alive."[8]


  1. ^ Billington, Michael (30 January 2008). "Theatre review: The Lover/The Collection / Comedy Theatre, London" – via
  2. ^ "THE LOVER by Harold Pinter".
  3. ^ Raby, Peter (20 September 2001). The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521658423 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Richards, Lee-Ann. "A moment's pause for Pinter's black comedy double bill". Romford Recorder.
  5. ^ Burkman, Katherine H. (21 October 1971). The Dramatic World of Harold Pinter: Its Basis in Ritual. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 9780814201466 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Lover, The (1963)".
  7. ^ "The Lover and The Collection by Harold Pinter on stage in London - theatre tickets and show information".
  8. ^ " - Plays".

External linksEdit