by Harold Pinter.
London Classic Theatre Tour to 30 November2013.
Runs: 1hr 45min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 22 November at Palace Theatre Mansfield .
Reasonable production of a not especially good play.
It’s 1977. At her request a couple meet up again two years after their seven-year extra-marital affair ended. From then on most of the scenes are in chronologically reversed order, ending in 1968.
When Harold Pinter’s Betrayal first appeared, in 1977 it was assumed to have been suggested by his affair with Antonia Fraser. It subsequently turned out to originate from an earlier entanglement, the one with broadcaster Joan Bakewell.
This isn’t a top-drawer play, up there with, for instance, The Caretaker or The Dumb Waiter. What with the middle-class milieu and the messing about with time, it’s a bit like an Alan Ayckbourn piece minus the laughs; in fact it’s not even as funny as your usual Pinter.
The play also lacks Pinter’s trademark air of menace, which is fair enough: how could there be such a thing when we all know roughly what happens next? But we do get two full-blown Pinteresque pauses. Proceedings start with the playwright’s characteristic fractured and halting dialogue – due to the embarrassment because he still loves her – but it isn’t sustained.
Compared with London Classic Theatre’s recent productions, including a brilliant Caretaker from the same director, Michael Cabot, this one’s a disappointment. Steven Clarke (Jerry) is sometimes too histrionic to be believable, and from time to time Rebecca Pownall (Emma) slides into inappropriately Noël Coward-style line delivery. Pete Collis (best friend Robert) is more credible; and he’s good in the scene in Venice when he’s had too much wine.
The multi-locational set resembles a bombed-out building. If you don’t consult the programme – you shouldn’t need to – you might think it’s meant to represent the ruined relationships surrounding Jerry and Emma; both spouses have also been unfaithful.
In short, the play is concerned with the idea of betrayal, the central theme. Sadly, there’s not a lot more to it than that.
Emma: Rebecca Pownall.
Jerry: Steven Clarke.
Robert: Pete Collis.
A Waiter: Max Wilson.
Director: Michael Cabot.
Designer: Bek Palmer.
Lighting: Andy Grange.
Costume: Katja Krzesinska.