Written by Harold Pinter
Directed by Geordie Brookman
State Theatre Company Of South Australia
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 22 August 2015
Reviewed by Len Power 19 August 2015
On the surface, Harold Pinter’s ‘Betrayal’ is one of his more accessible plays but it’s when you look at the emotions boiling under the surface that you realize how devilishly clever and complex this work is.
The story of a love triangle over a period of some ten years, presented in a series of scenes that move back and forth in time, we’re led through the characters’ motives and actions until we’re not absolutely sure with whom the betrayal actually lies.
Geordie Brookman’s powerful production owes a lot to its spectacular, towering setting, wonderfully designed and dramatically lit by Geoff Cobham. Jason Sweeney’s sound design creates a tension of its own that keeps you on edge throughout the show. Costumes by Ailsa Paterson successfully give a flavour of the fashions for both men and women during the specific ten year period from the late 60s.
Alison Bell as Emma gives a beautifully nuanced performance as a controlled woman seemingly unaffected by the drama surrounding her affair with Jerry and her relationship with her husband, Robert. Mark Saturno gives an icy, edgy performance as the husband, Robert, who isn’t as ignorant of or complaisant about the affair as we first thought. Nathan O’Keefe gives an excellent, multi-faceted performance as the lover, Jerry, showing his weakness, untrustworthiness and ultimately the damage the affair has brought to him. John Maurice is memorable in a small role as an efficient and friendly restaurant waiter who unwittingly adds to the husband’s stress.
Director, Geordie Brookman, has given us a clear window into this emotionally-charged story. In Pinter’s dialogue, the banalities of everyday speech and the pauses where characters seem momentarily lost in thought or struggling with emotions need a firm director’s hand. Geordie Brookman’s work with his cast is especially evident in those moments. His highly choreographed scene changes work very well, giving a clear indication of the passage of time between scenes.
When a Pinter play is as well done as in this production, it leaves you feeling strangely unsettled and stays with you long after you leave the theatre.
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in the ‘Artcetera’ program on Artsound FM 92.7 on Saturdays from 9am.