Wednesday, 28 February 2001

Betrayal, MTC, Feb 28, 2001

 by Harold Pinter
 MTC at Fairfax Studio, Feb 28  until 12 April, 2001
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is a creeping fear in us all of betrayal by a lover, a partner, a friend. In Harold Pinter's 1978 play, Betrayal, a wife's affair with her husband's best friend for seven years is not the only treachery.

Emma, played with great composure by Sigrid Thornton, sets up a little secret love nest with Jerry (Richard Piper) unknown, or so we think, to her husband, Robert (Martin Jacobs).

The beauty of Pinter's structuring of this deceptively simple play, is that we know everything from the first scene. He runs the play backwards chronologically and we see the last meeting of Emma and Jerry at the point of Emma and Robert's separation.

We all know the destructive power of deception and infidelity. We recognise, even predict, the ruin in others. We are blind to our own spiral into self-destruction through love.

This is a strong production of an exceptional play directed unobtrusively and intelligently by Kate Cherry, designed stylishly by Anna Borghesi with music by Ian McDonald.

My only quibble is that it lacks some of the necessary passion and sensuality seen in other productions or in the English film starring Jeremy Irons.

Thornton is well known and highly regarded for her screen work but this is her first stage appearance and she demonstrates that she possesses the vocal and emotional range for this part.

Piper is suitably chipper and anxious as Jerry while Jacobs gives a delightfully muscular performance as the abrasive and brusque Robert.

Pinter, by running the story in reverse, allows us to view not the breakdown of the relationships but where they have come from and how they have bren.

He explores the fickleness of not only love but of memory. Even the characters' most precious memories are questioned. This play was based on Pinter's own experience of a triangle of love with Joan Bakewell.

Betrayal was a departure from Pinter's obscure, ambiguous and oblique earlier plays such as The Birthday Party, The Homecoming and The Caretaker. However, he retains the crispness of the dialogue, and the subtle representation of misunderstandings and unspent thoughts of the early works.

By Kate Herbert

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