Betrayal at New Theatre

Betrayal by Harold Pinter is New Theatre’s offering this week.

Betrayal is the story of the friendship of a married couple – Emma (Nadia Amico) and Robert (Nick Barker) – and Emma’s ‘betrayal’ of Robert with his best friend Jerry (Harry Bradley), her lover for seven years.

The play spans the years from 1968 to 1977 and provides snapshots in the lives of these three characters.

Most boring New Theatre poster yet?

Dryly funny

It is presented in a non-chronological fashion, working backwards from the first scene in which Jerry and Emma meet several years after their affair has ended to talk about their lives and ends by showing how it all began.

It is a dryly funny play which showcases the weaknesses of the British literary and art set of the late 1960s to 1970s, with each character in some way connected to this group; Emma runs a gallery, Robert is a publisher and Jerry is a literary agent.

Betrayal expects a lot of attention from its audience. A diverse array of verbal pointers, ranging from squash to Yeats to a Venetian tablecloth, provides the indicators one needs to piece the non-linear story together. On the whole it was possible to follow the action and the play was effective.

Fringe season began this week

Betrayal is on until Saturday 

The cast were unafraid to let awkward silences hang and each of the characters was portrayed in a well-rounded manner, like watching real middle-aged, middle-class people in spite of the youthful cast.

The scenes that examined Robert and Jerry’s friendship were superlative as Barker and Bradley showcased the shifting dynamic between the two, ranging from affection to betrayal.

The production did have a few niggles. At times the staging obfuscated the non-linear time frame, particularly as there was just one set that served to represent numerous different houses, and the inconsistent lighting was similarly confusing in its intention.

Ultimately however, these few small failings do little to harm a short, adept and bittersweet exploration of relationships.