Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Lover and The Collection
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Death of a Salesman

Lisa Dwan and Patrick Kennedy
Photo by Carol Rosegg
Harold Pinter's plays are notable for their spare use of language and strategically placed silences, examining the ways in which people seem to connect but never quite admit what they want or what has happened to them. Director Michael Kahn has staged a stylish production of two of Pinter's brief early works, The Lover and The Collection, for Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company, in the intimate setting of the Lansburgh Theatre.

Kahn is working with four actors who understand the layers of performance in these works: Pinter has written characters who play with different identities depending on the situation. Patrick Kennedy, Lisa Dwan, Patrick Ball, and Jack Koenig navigate the realistic, surrealistic, and self-consciously theatrical moments with great skill.

In The Lover, businessman Richard (Kennedy) questions his wife Sarah (Dwan) about whether her lover is coming to visit that afternoon, so he won't get home too early and intrude. Later, he calmly tells her about his own infidelity with a prostitute. "I'm sorry your affair has so little dignity," she says.

Kennedy and Ball, who also appears, hold up their end, but Dwan brings a feral edge to her performance, especially her farcical attempts at seductive posturing in a tight animal-print dress and high heels (costumes by Jane Greenwood) and some symbolic action involving a bongo drum.

The Collector brings together two couples: Stella (Dwan), a fashion designer, and her husband James (Kennedy), who runs a boutique; and Bill (Ball), another designer, and his older and more sophisticated partner Harry (Koenig). The crux of the drama is whether Stella and Bill met during a recent conference they both attended, but the truth is slippery and may not even exist. (Adding to the interest is the presence of a live cat, Sweet Bea, who stays in character even when startled.)

Debra Booth's scenic design captures both the comforting boredom of Richard and Sarah's house and, side by side, the two homes in The Collection, James and Stella's slightly bohemian flat and Harry and Bill's more elegant townhouse, including a display of Chinese porcelain vases.

Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Lover and The Collection
September 26th - October 29th, 2017
By Harold Pinter
The Lover:
Richard: Patrick Kennedy
Sarah: Lisa Dwan
John: Patrick Ball
The Collection:
James: Patrick Kennedy
Harry: Jeff Koenig
Stella: Lisa Dwan
Bill: Patrick Ball
Directed by Michael Kahn
Harman Center for the Arts, Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-547-1122 or 877-487-8849 or