Review: The Lover

LA Weekly (California)
August 16, 2007


Director Gabrielle O’Sullivan provides smart and eerily seductive
direction of Harold Pinter’s one-act about the imploding realities of
a suburban English couple, Sarah and Richard (Nora Armani and Aramazd
Stepanian). Richard leaves for the office, kissing Sarah goodbye on
the cheek after blithely checking on her schedule for the day –
whether her lover will be visiting in the afternoon, and whether he
should postpone his arrival home because of the guest. Richard too
has extramarital sexual relations, so he says, with a prostitute.
Their trite domestic repartee is frost on the icy lake of their
marriage – polite and frigid.

After several short scenes, we meet Sarah’s lover, also played by
Stepanian, now in the leathery guise of a marauder. This throws their
quasicomedic reality, so artfully established in the first few
scenes, into the stark counter-relief of role playing, leaving the
question of what is real and what is imagined to endless speculation
on our part. There’s also a brief appearance by a milk delivery boy
(Hayk Hambartsumyan) offering Sarah a spot of cream. Hmmm. The latent
force of the subtext depends on the cadences and uniquely English
sounds of the deceptively pointless dialogue. This Armenian ensemble
approaches but doesn’t possess these subtleties of the King’s
English, which leaves the production dangling without menace, and
hanging on the margins of artifice. The production plays in repertory
with an Armenian version, which could actually be more successful on
that linguistic front, as so much of Pinter depends on the ownership
of words. LUNA PLAYHOUSE, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale;
Sun.-Wed., 8 p.m.; in Armenian, Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Aug. 16. (818)
500-7200. (Steven Leigh Morris)