Oscar E Moore

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BETRAYAL – IT TAKES 3 TO TANGO in this dance of duplicity

September 9th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore

Pinter can be puzzling.  Not so here, in this exceptional revival expertly directed by Mr. Jamie Lloyd.  Imported from across the pond with its original stars intact.  This is no snobbish import.  This is the real deal.  Great theater.  Anyone interested in seeing fine actors at work directed with sublime detail should race to the Bernie Jacobs Theatre.  Run ends December 8th.  Hurry.

Surreal.  A heightened reality.  Bare bones.  Stark.  No set to speak of.  Two chairs and a small table.  Some props.  Mostly booze.  The economical words of Pinter.  And his infamous pauses.  Allowing the actors to express inner thoughts with a nod, a smirk, a search for the right word, or a false laugh or waiting to see what the reaction will be or lack thereof.  One can almost hear their minds at work.  All brought together with a brand new rhythm created by director Jamie Lloyd.

From the opening tableau this sexual love triangle tango for three sets a slow, steady and seductive pace that transfixes the audience into complete silence.

The three main characters stay on stage throughout – one never out of the mind of the other two.  A silent and brooding presence.  Dishonesty, deception, inner hostilities and selfishness simmer to the surface.

These people are not nice.  Professional and smart.  Attractive on the surface.  But…

BETRAYAL starts in 1977 and ends at the beginning in 1968.  The affair has ended for some time when we meet Emma (free spirit Zawe Ashton) who runs an art gallery that is dark on Thursday that had enabled her to carry on an illicit five year tryst with Jerry (a hot Charlie Cox) a literary agent.  Jerry is the best mate of Emma’s husband Robert (a cold Tom Hiddleston) a bitter publisher who loves Yeats.  Jerry was Best Man at their wedding.  She is now with Casey (unseen) another writer that Jerry has discovered.  Children are involved.  Most distasteful.

Mr. Lloyd manages to bring out the dark humor especially with Jerry and a scene in an Italian restaurant with a waiter (an excellent Eddie Arnold) beset with serving Jerry and Robert but it is the hidden truths that emerge that are so horrible but so beautifully staged that is breathtaking.

This is their riveting, unsettling story.  No intermission.  No late seating.

Excellent subdued lighting by Jon Clark.  A moody, melancholy soundscape by Ben & Max Ringham.  Both making for seamless transitions between the nine scenes of this one act 90 minute revival.  Simple but apt costumes and set design by Soutra Gilmour.

The bar has been set quite high for the rest of the season.

A note about Yeats.  I did a bit of research.  He also had marital problems.  Dabbled in automatic writing and was “a symbolist poet – using allusive imagery and symbolic structures.  He chose words and assembled them so that, in addition to a particular meaning they suggest abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant.”  Wikipedia.


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Photos:  Marc Brenner

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