"Betrayal” by Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter's love triangle play, "Betrayal," examines the decline of a marriage when Emma admits to an affair with her husband's friend, Jerry. It uses an unusual plot device of telling the story in reverse order. It’s inspired in part by Pinter’s affair with Joan Bakewell and was written in 1978.
Robert (Ben Addis) and Emma (Kemi-Bo Jacobs), middle-age and successful, appear happily married and are good friends with Jerry (Philip Correia) and Judith, his wife. However, at a party in 1968, Jerry confesses his love for Emma, who returns his feelings. They rent an apartment where they meet to make love. Five years into the affair, Robert finally forces Emma to admit it; he had been suspicious about her for a while. When Emma and Jerry meet again in 1977 at the beginning, she tells him her marriage to Robert is over, and she lies to him when she says Robert just found out.
The first scenes takes place in 1977, when Emma and Jerry meet two years after their affair ended. From 1977 to 1968, each scene reveals a little more of the affair, and Emma's growing betrayal of her husband and Jerry.
Emma, an art gallery manager, wants out of her loveless marriage to Robert. Convinced he once had an affair, she takes revenge by starting an affair with Jerry. She continues her betrayal without remorse until Robert confronts her.
Jerry, a London literary agent and writer, is a hopeless romantic who falls in love with love. His impulsive nature leads him to instigate the affair, betraying Robert and Judith. Though kindhearted and loving, Jerry is too naïve to realize that he is manipulated by Emma and later Robert. Jerry is the last to know that Robert learned of the affair years ago, which makes Jerry feel foolish.
The most clever character, Robert, a publisher, plays detective as he unravels Emma's infidelity. Practical and logical, he plays a game of cat-and-mouse after he finds a letter from Jerry to Emma. Trapped by her own lies and betrayal, she finally confesses the affair. Still, he toys with Jerry, giving him hints to see whether he will also confess.
Matthew Curnier is the waiter in the restaurant scenes.His Italian accent is very impressive.
Directed by Lekan Lawal is currently the Resident Assistant Director at Derby Theatre, and was assistant director on the excellent “Look Back In Anger” and “Alice In Wonderland” at Derby Theatre last year. Lekan is part of an 18 month placement with the Regional theatre Young Director’s Scheme.
The set and costume design for “Betrayal” is by Neil Irish, who also worked on “Look Back In Anger” and “Alice In Wonderland” at Derby Theatre.
The set is not like any I've seen before. It looks like a giant glass conservatory/greenhouse, which brings to mind the adage "people in glass houses....." It revolves so you can see all angles of the action, reflecting the fact that you also see all angles of the betrayal. All the characters betray each other. Using the revolving stage also makes the reversal process of the play easy because it gives the impression of spinning back in time.
Lighting design is by Arnim Freiss. The lighting creates the impression of moving back in time by spinning and helps soften the scene changes inside the glass house. Paired with the cinematic effects makes the time reversal very easy to follow.
Sound design by Paul Arditti. the incidental music adds more than you first think to the play with the subliminal messages. the incidental soundscape also creates an uneasy feeling of being privy to all the characters betrayal with and to each other.
This is a very classy production of Pinter's classic, and not like any production of this play I've seen in the past. It's exciting to watch and at just under two hours long, including a 20 minute interval, you won't be looking at your watch (or mobile phone).
“Betrayal” is at Derby Theatre until Saturday 1 April 2017.