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Playwright Harold Pinter passed a caustic comment on middle-class sexual mores through this 1963 play that was both a bold statement on the staleness of bourgeois marriage, and on the need to reconcile our base appetites with our tamed, public, social selves. But what is fascinating is the skill with which Pinter leads us into a triangular jealousy-drama enacted by two people, and shows the danger of splitting our sexual lives into watertight compartments. Under the veneer of humor, Pinter makes a serious social point: whereas the wife adapts easily to her dual role as respectable consort and randy mistress, the husband slowly cracks under the strain of a double identity.
The play stands the inevitable test of time and broadens our social views through a theme that might have shocked audiences when it was first performed, but now seems tame in comparison to the fare we watch on television today.