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General Information

Poster for The Lover
  • Directed by

    Cynthia Wallis

  • Written by

    Harold Pinter

  • Opening night

    March 26, 1976

  • Closing night

    April 10, 1976

  • Performances

    Only on Fridays and Saturdays - 8:30pm

  • Location

    Gumption (1563 Page Str)

  • Prices

    $3.00 (General)
    $2.00 (Students & Senior Citizens)


  • Robin Williams

    Richard (Husband/Lover)

  • Catalaine Knell

    Sarah (Wife/Mistress)

  • Carlton Davis

    "The Milkman"


In their comfortable suburban home, husband and wife Richard and Sarah calmly discuss the expected visit of her lover that afternoon. Richard agrees not to return before six. After he leaves, she changes her clothes and shoes in anticipation of her lover's arrival.

In the evening, Richard returns and politely enquires if she has had a pleasant day. Later, he asks her if, while entertaining her lover, she pictures him at work in his office. Surprised by his question, she admits that she does, a little, adding that it makes it more 'piquant'. When he continues his enquiries, she turns the tables, enquiring about his mistress. He is dismissive, insisting that he is merely acquainted with a whore. Sarah expresses regret that his affair should be so undignified, to which he responds that he enjoys enough dignity in his marriage. As they lie in their separate beds, Sarah asks Richard whether he is content with their arrangement, whether he is jealous. Richard reassures her that he is not, and she is satisfied.

Next morning, Richard expresses some surprise when Sarah informs him that she is expecting her lover again. But he agrees not to return early.

Patiently awaiting her lover's arrival, Sarah is disturbed by the milkman. She becomes agitated, particularly when his tone grows suggestive; she hurries him away. Soon after, 'Max' arrives - in reality, her husband. They begin the games that have become their afternoon ritual: Sarah is approached in a park by a stranger who becomes threatening; he is chased away by a park keeper to whom Sarah, in her gratitude, makes advances. Later, however, 'Max' announces that the affair must end. He is concerned about his wife. Sarah insists that his wife knows, that she is happy. Max replies that she knows only that he sees a whore, and wonders how her husband copes with the affair. Sarah becomes anxious, tries to reassure him. Finally, he complains that she has become too bony. She assumes he is joking. He denies it.

That evening Richard returns, complaining of a tedious day at work. He asks about her day; she is distant. When she tells him she has not prepared dinner, he becomes critical, complaining that she is neglecting her duties. He demands that she end her affair, accuses her of adultery. He has already paid off his whore, he says - she was too bony. Sarah is shocked and upset. Richard finds the drum that plays a part in their afternoon games, and asks who it belongs to, what it is for. She objects that he is breaking their arrangement not to speak of such things. She takes another approach, asserting that her lover is not the only afternoon visitor she entertains. Unannounced, Richard reverts to their earlier role-play; uncertain, she plays along, concerned at this new development but relieved at the apparent reaffirmation of their relationship. She offers to change her clothes for him; he agrees, calling her "you lovely whore".

Background Info

by Cynthia Wallis

Robin had just left the Juilliard School in New York and returned to Mill Valley and San Francisco. He took the audition spot of a fellow actor and friend of his who called to say he had just gotten a role in a show in Berkeley and was it ok if he sent an actor friend of his, over to audition... the friend was a wonderfully talented Robin Williams.

I would assume that he had done some "serious" while studying at Juilliard. San Francisco Director, Lee Sankowitz tried to "steal" Robin away from "The Lover" for his theater show "Indians"... Lee was the original director for "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest" and a terrific director... Robin was a great guy and stayed with "The Lover"... and then became famous in L.A. This is my observation from being his director, producer, etc. in 1975/76... Robin is a natural at improvisation, in fact he's brilliant at it, as most people have seen. Robin was in an improvization group in SF, the last group I believe, before they all slowly headed for L.A. San Francisco was very vibriant in those days, Coppola had a beautiful little theater on Pacific Avenue (Barbary Coast) where "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" was playing. Coppola and friends were putting out a magazine, there were theater and improve shows all over the North Beach/Broadway, and outer parts of the City and music and comedy... creative times.

Serious was very difficult for Robin; to remember what it was he had just done and repeat it, wrenching. He did it every performance, beautifully, differently, close enough, but fresh, there... in no small part to the other wonderful actors that shared the stage and themselves with him, all at top form, all great actors. For "The Lover"... Robin and cast were brilliant "serious" with all the nuances. We were also probably one of the first integrated, non-specific theater casting/cast... the role of the milkman was not played by a white actor. I found it humourous, in a nice way, that this caused a small stir... today no one would blink an eye. No I don't think Robin had really done any serious before I cast and directed him in "The Lover".



Fun Fact

by Cynthia Wallis

Yes, he was as funny then- off-stage. For his role in "The Lover" he was brilliant as was his counter-part Catalaine in the nuances of the Play. Evenings off Robin would go to the local comedy clubs.
They got a standing ovation every night. Two very talented people.

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