Dunstan Playhouse, Tue 28 Jul
Harold Pinter’s 1978 play, Betrayal,is much loved by Pinter fans and is State Theatre Company’s latest production. A semi-autobiographical account of the Nobel prize-winning playwright’s own infidelity, the play centres on the broken relationships forged as ‘Emma’ engages in a seven year affair with ‘Jerry’ who also happens to be husband ‘Robert’s’ best friend.
The script is pure Pinter, creating an uncomfortably close window through which the audience observes the train wreck that is the lives of everyday people, possibly ourselves or those we know. Geordie Brookman has assembled and directed a fabulous cast to ensure that the nuances of Pinter’s dialogue are delivered with intricacy and sensitivity. At the same time, those typically long moments of silences – the ‘Pinter pauses’ with their underlying hints of emotional menace – are absolutely critical and are truly mastered by three solid performances.
Written in reverse chronological order, the play begins at the end – the lovers meeting again two years after they end the affair. From there, time moves backward and we witness the breakup, the discovery, the passion and finally the initial flirtations. In this way, the impact is magnified as we the audience have already lived through the devastation that awaits. As Emma, Alison Bell ‘uncrumbles’ before our eyes in a measured performance that perfectly contrasts the world-weary soon to be divorcee Emma we meet at the beginning with the fresh and impassioned young woman we find at the end. As Jerry, Nathan O’Keefe’s performance is utterly absorbing; his portrayal of the garrulous, charming yet ultimately oblivious lover was well executed. Mark Saturno was, himself, mesmerising as betrayed husband Robert; his character alternately sympathetic and brutal, able to interpret a tragically dark and often humorous script with his strong stage presence.
Recent Helpmann Award winner Geoff Cobham has constructed a brilliant set – a semi-circle of clothes racks moving the story backwards and forwards through time and space. The actors dress themselves and the stage from these racks as they revolve during the many scene changes. Accompanied by striking lighting sequences and a soundscape (Jason Sweeney) that mirrors the emotional turmoil of Pinter’s characters, the overall experience was truly memorable.
Rosie van Heerde
Betrayal continues at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times until Sat 15 Aug.
Book at BASS on 131 241 or bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Shane Reid.