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harold pinter’s betrayal @ ensemble theatre

Matt Zeremes and Ursula Mills in Betrayal, photo by Clare Hawley-62

Above – Matt Zeremis as Jerry and  Ursula Mills as Emma. Featured – Guy Edmonds as Robert in Harold Pinter’s classic drama, BETRAYAL.

In my opinion we view an artwork, in whatever field of the creative arts it may fall in, to take in an experience, the experience which the artist is endeavouring to communicate.

A primary roles that a reviewer has is to guide his audience as to what kind of experience, and the quality thereof, that he is likely to have when attending an event. This then gives the reader some guidance as to whether the performance/event is something that they would like to attend.

I sometimes find with the performances that I see, that the show can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. The performance is a mish-mash of styles and, and one is left in a quandary as to what its intent was.

This is definitely not the case with British playwright Harold Pinter’s relationship drama, BETRAYAL. With this play, autobiographical in nature, Pinter gives theatregoers a very raw, lean experience charting matters of the heart.The play might have easily have been called The Anatomy of An Affair. Essentially, the work  charts an extramarital affairs between Jerry and Emma, who both happen to be married to other people. Jerry is married to Judith. Emma is married to Robert, who just happens to be Jerry’s best friend, and was the best man at his wedding. Hence, the play’s title- we are talking about a betrayal, a betrayal on a massive scale.

The play is told in reverse order, commencing with the end of the affair and ending with its fateful beginning. Pinter’s writing is superb with its poetic structure, sharp dialogue, and well realised characters. Through the play Robert, Jerry and Emma refer to several off stage characters, and they are so well drawn that we can see them clearly.

Desire is blind, and so it is the case with Jerry and Emma. They are blind to everyone bar each other, and have few compunctions  about the consequences of their actions.

This is a play where the looks and  glances given by the performers, and the fraught situations that they find themselves in, say even more than the dialogue which they deliver. So much about this work does not need words, so  much is sensed…Perhaps this is what makes it such a strong piece.

Mark Kilmurry’s production serves Pinter’s play well. Kilmurry’s direction, Anna Gardiner’s compact design, Christopher Page’s impressive lighting design,  Tim Hope’s AV location cues and Renata Beslik’s apt costume design create the world for the three young performers to work in.

The talented trio portray their characters well- Guy Edmonds haughtiness  as Robert, the vulnerability and sensuality of Ursula Mills as Emma, and the suaveness and charm of Matt Zeremes as Robert.

Recommended, this is one of the great  plays. BETRAYAL is playing the Ensemble theatre until August 20.


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