[Image courtesy Queensland Theatre Company]
||Review: Lana Harris
Silence, with its lack of apparent weightiness, is often the hiding place for what we don’t want to acknowledge. Guilt, fear and secrets hide in silence, and so it is fitting that silence plays a pivotal role in a tale which features these elements of duplicity.
Presented by the Queensland Theatre Company, Betrayal is Harold Pinter’s tale of a love triangle. The narrative reveals itself through scenes played out in a stream opposite to the usual: the end at the beginning, flowing through to the beginning at the end. Emma (Sibylla Budd) is married to Robert (Hugh Parker) but commits to an affair with Jerry (Paul Bishop), who is also Robert’s best friend. Emma’s betrayal of her husband is not the only disloyalty. At various points, each pair are pitted against the third person and in doing so, betray not just the others but themselves too.
While on the surface it reads like a tabloid scandal or a soap opera plot, Pinter’s treatment of this uncomfortable subject is both poignant and powerful. We are invited into intimate pivotal moments, witnesses to calculated weavings of pretended innocence and voyeurs of collapsing secrets, the awkward truth bursting illusions. The strength of the acting in these scenes forces the audience to forge emotional responses to these events – responses which seep out as nervous laughter or a sick feeling in the stomach. Parker, in particular, plays his character well, demonstrating a raw and believable portrayal of the cuckold’s agony coupled with a darkly amusing resilience.
Pinter leaves the why of affairs largely untouched, with no hints of moralising. Betrayal is more a sign-posted journey through the features of love, both illicit and sanctioned. Apparently, the play has echoes of Pinter’s own life in it (he was ‘Jerry’) and so it was with first hand experience that Pinter has clearly depicted the chase for devotion and satisfaction.
A great tension soaks Betrayal, with what’s not said often meaning just as much as what is uttered. It is in these moments that the silence of the theatre becomes the most important player on the stage. Realisations occur and each person in the room is aware of the silent roar of intense feeling. At such moments, it was so quiet you could hear the truth sink in. Betrayal’s surreptitiousness proves riveting.
Review: Lana Harris
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Date: 10th September 2010
Betrayal By Harold Pinter @ Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane – 6 Sept-9 Oct 2010 – Press Release