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Betrayal

Perseverance Theatre & Alaska Airlines

presents

(at Alaska Center for the Performing Arts)

 

Harold Pinter’s

BETRAYAL

 Runs April 12 - 21

 

Reviewed by Robert Pond

Aside from film and theatre, Harold Pinter seems to be his own separate performance genre.  It’s not convenient to experience Pinter’s theatre unless you can’t ignore drama lab or the exorcising of honesty from deceit.  It’s less entertaining than it is investigatory.  Betrayal is simpler than some of Pinter’s other theatre works but, nonetheless, the work is innovative.  In the nine staves of Betrayal, we are taken, regressively, on an archeological dig of a seven-year evolution of an affair, layer by layer.

Jerry and Emma are the ones who have the affair; Jerry is a best of friends to Robert, Emma’s husband.  At the beginning of the play, it’s two years after the affair and the stolen moments have ended. Emma and Jerry meet for one more lie for the road, Emma having already moved on to another unrelated affair.  The other staves (scenes) to this emotional ordeal are various stages of a painful love story set sometimes at Emma and Jerry’s favorite flat, Emma’s home, with Robert, and at a restaurant.  Jerry’s wife, Judith, is not germane to this triangle.

In Perseverance’s latest landing in Anchorage, director Bostin Christopher has brought an impressive production to us.   Certainly, Pinter is an actor’s playwright using sophisticated and very well written, sometimes beautiful, dialogue to couch the basic needs of our lovers and that of Robert.  Betrayal is humorous and it is sad and, as a fabric of love, it is painful as only love can be.

The cast is very capable in this undertaking, once you swim through the accents, and director Bostin Christopher has shepherded the actors with impressive economy in his directorial design, yet keeping the play from just being an exchange of meaningful dialogue.  Such is not always achieved with treatments of Pinter.  Shona Strauser is entertaining as Emma though narrow in her choices.  We wonder if Emma really loves Jerry or ever loved Robert.  Daniel Billet, in his performance as Jerry, is convincing, as he seemed to be dancing on a hot tin roof balancing his relationships with his friend Robert and his lover, Emma.  Robert, played by Aaron Wiseman, is the coy one, a poker player holding his hand close.  In an otherwise talky role, he keeps us guessing.  Wiseman is an excellent actor but not always easy to read. Some actors have a gift in making a small role into that of a headliner.  When David Haynes, performing the waiter, is on stage, he owns it.  His work, while not subtle, is a welcome ingredient to the production.

The scene changes were to be endured, or maybe they are just a lost art in so many current productions. The monolithic walls that housed the settings of Betrayal seemed threatening to the play without contributing much to it.

Betrayal is a major theatre piece; the play, after all, represents the framework to an illicit affair.  Pinter is saying that there can be no lover’s affair without the pains of betrayal.

 

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