Soul Theatre’s ‘The Lover’ turns up the heat in a (role) play of lies

Ravi Batista and Mick Weber in Soul Theatre’s “The Lover”

Every relationship needs a little spice now and then, right? Well, in Harold Pinter’s 55-minute power play, The Lover, married couple Sarah (Ravi Batista) and Richard (Mick Weber) have taken the erotic art of role play to a whole ‘nother level — to the point that the line separating their fictional selves from their actual selves begins to blur, or perhaps disappear altogether.

Sarah is having an affair with a dashing married man while her husband Richard works late, and her husband is banging a “whore” in a hotel room. Turns out, Sarah is the whore and Richard is Sarah’s afternoon f-buddy.

Oh, those bored suburbanites. Where are we, Naperville?

This play is quintessential Pinter. I mean, we have a couple that spends an entire play saying nothing but lies to each other, with menacing pauses peppered throughout, and a set comprising a sofa, a table and a cocktail cabinet. So, if you enjoy Pinter, you’ll enjoy this focused, taut production under Paul Wagner’s precise direction that stresses the play’s sultry drama.

Pinter isn’t really my scene, but I appreciate the provocative things he has to say here about the power of a shared reality and how the carefully crafted illusion can come crashing down the moment one of its members begins to break the implicit rules of that shared reality. And how sometimes it’s all fun and games until someone wears obscenely high-heeled shoes. (Seriously, the shoes Batista slips into as her whore alter-ego look painful, and, funnily enough, more than resemble a pair of pumps I encountered a few mornings ago while walking to the Thorndale Red Line stop.)

Anyway. If you need a bit more heat than what this 160-degree weather is offering, check out Soul Theatre’s The Lover. Also, each performance concludes with a free post-show event inspired by themes from the play, such as an intro to “love-focused meditation” and a course on what foods amp up your sex drive.

“The Lover” plays through July 15 at A Red Orchid Theatre. More info here >

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