Monday, 20 June 2016

"Betrayal" by Harold Pinter
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.

Inspired by Pinter's extramarital affair with Joan Bakewell, The plot relates to a seven-year affair involving a married couple, Emma and Robert, and Robert's "close friend" Jerry, who is also married, to a woman named Judith. For five years Jerry and Emma carry on their affair without Robert's knowledge until Emma's confession to Robert, without letting on to Jerry that she has done so.

The play is performed in reverse order where we start the play with a meeting up of Emma and Jerry a couple of years after the affair ended in 1977, and works backwards to the start of the affair in 1968.

There's the trademark simplicity of language as well as the pauses and silences for which Pinter was knows for, creating an awkwardness, which should be there, as per the writing style of the author.

The four actors, Jemma Froggitt (Emma), Graeme Jennings (Robert), Oliver Lovley (Jerry) and Timothy Pollard (Barman/Waiter) were all excellent in their roles, and I love Timothy's Italian accent. They all made me believe in the characters and the betrayal act they were portraying, I was totally hooked, thanks to the skillful direction of Cynthia Marsh.

The set, designed by Emma Pegg, was something else as well. Simple in it's visual aspect but, similar to the set of "The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night Time", the set had hidden depths and this is what it made it so interesting. Parts of the set pulled out from itself and there were interchangeable sections as well, making it visually very interesting.

A clever reverse timeline function by way of projection showing where we were in the scenes and the dates and settings, courtesy of Matthew Allcock.

This is one of the shortest plays I've been to, lasting only 80 minutes, and I had to check that with my watch because it flew by, always a good sign. But there was just one thing that I found niggled me a bit.

Pinter was a writer of realism and was heralded as one of the first kitchen-sink drama style writers and therefore realism is to the forefront of his plays. One thing I found to be in complete opposition to the realism of the play was something very simple that could be resolved.

There were several scenes where there were drinks involved, as well as a meal eaten in a restaurant. Bottles of wine were supposedly drunk but while there were bottles and glasses and plates served, there was no actual liquid or food on the plates. I know that this sounds a bit petty but surely if you're seen to be drinking wine, vodka or whatever the choice of drink, couldn't we see the "drink" being physically poured in to the glass from the bottle and then drank? Also the meal served in the restaurant were empty plates and the actors had to pretend to eat "invisible" food from the plates. It would make the scenes more believable in my opinion. Hey, I'm only the reviewer, not the director, but I appreciate the little touches within plays.

Apart from this very small criticism, i really enjoyed the play and the story of deception, as well as discovering that there were more than one case of betrayal going off here.

To see how many betrayals there are in the play, pop down to the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre this week until Saturday 25 June 2016.

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