Review: Betrayal @ St David's Hall
Betrayal, written by the legendary modern playwright Harold Pinter, was performed by the ON IN 5 PRODUCTIONS on the 3rd to the 5th March 2016 at the St David's Hall venue here in Cardiff.
The play is one of Pinter's celebrated pieces of theatre first performed in 1978 at the National Theatre London. The play is based on Pinter's own love affair with married BBC Presenter Joan Bakewell which lasted for 7 years. Pinter uses his autobiographical inspiration for creating the fictional dramatic relationships of his three characters Jerry, Emma and Robert. The play explores the elements of sexual desire, pain, sorrow, rage and of course betrayal as they are interpreted throughout the progression of the play.
Producer Phil Roberts states Pinter "has found a way of making memory active and dramatic, giving an audience the experience of the mind's accelerating momentum as it pieces together the past with a combination of curiosity and regret".
Unlike traditional plays with the plot structure with beginning, middle and end in a chronological order of events, Betrayal explores different events in the past that starts from the present and it ends in the past from the origins of the love affair.
The opening scene shows Jerry and Emma meeting each after 2 years since they ended their love affair. Emma confesses to Jerry that her husband and Jerry's best friend Robert has found out the about their affair after she discovers Robert cheated on her by sleeping with other women over the years and hence confesses him.
In the next scene, still the present Jerry and Robert meet at Jerry's place and Robert reveals that he had known for 4 years previously and he decided to keep his good relationship with Jerry.
Next scene both Jerry and Emma ended the affair which is followed immediately by Jerry visiting Robert and Emma at home and Jerry and Robert plan to play squash together after Jerry returns from New York.
In scene 5, Robert and Emma are on holiday, intending to visit Italy tomorrow. Emma is reading a book by an author called Spinks, whose book agent is Jerry. Robert confesses that he refused to publish the book recounts the vivid imagery of betrayal. Robert then discovers that Emma has received a private letter from Jerry posted from the USA regarding her personal welfare which triggers Emma to admit to Robert they are having an affair.
The scene goes further in the past shows Emma and Jerry in their secret flat together debating whether Jerry's wife suspects anything and Emma tells Jerry that she is pregnant with Robert's child.
The final scene of the play is the party scene and the beginning of the affair where the audience witnesses Jerry and Emma alone in a bedroom together and Jerry confesses his love to her. With this taking place, Roberts enters in the scene and Jerry tells Robert he is his best friend.
Artistic styles portrayed in the performance
The set comprised with a basic set of blocks of attachable blocks to symbolise specific locations like Jerry's flat, the sitting room, the restaurant, the bedroom and even the pub. It was done to make the scene transitions flexible and smooth carried out by the actors.
Props were very authentic like the bottles and glasses of alcohol, the cutlery, plates and food for the dining room which was effective to interpret a realistic environment and for the audience watching the characters eating and drinking. The music style was very instrumental throughout the performance including one music piece which was an Italian folk song that helped setting the mood for the scenes.
ON IN 5 PRODUCTIONS are a new Welsh theatre company based here in Cardiff and their production of Betrayal is their debut theatre project. They are worth checking out as they intend to do more shows throughout this year. As producer Phil Roberts stated, "They hope to do many more, with a view to 2-3 shows a year in and around Cardiff. Always working with a totally professional and trained cast and crew". Hopefully we get to see more of their work.
Rating: 4 stars
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