Review by David Munro
FIRST produced in 1978, this tour of Harold Pinters Betrayal
is based on the recent revival at The
It revolves around three characters - Robert (David Michaels),
a publisher, Emma, his wife (Samantha Janus) and her lover, a
literary agent, Jerry (Antony Byrne) - and is as much a study
in duplicity as betrayal.
Emma hides from Jerry the fact that she has told her husband
of her affair; Robert hides from Jerry his knowledge of it, and
Jerry hides from Robert his part in the triangle.
The play opens when, some years after the affair has ended, the
marriage between Emma and Jerry has broken down and Emma has arranged
a meeting with Jerry to discuss it and their past relationship.
It then proceeds backward to the time when the affair commenced,
in a sequence of vignettes, each of which display another facet
of the characters and their inter-relationships.
In his diary of the original production, reproduced in the programme,
Peter Hall, the director, suggests that the marriage is kept going
by the affair and the friendship between the two men, and it only
ends when the betrayals cease.
That may be so, but the play seems to indicate that Robert had
a perverse pleasure in deceiving Jerry into believing that their
friendship was intact, and that once Jerry knew he knew, the friendship
too was finished.
Unfortunately, the current touring cast give no indication of
the hidden meaning to the play and, in fact, give very little
meaning to their parts or relationships.
In London, it was a taut, exciting evening in the theatre; in
Richmond, it is anything but. One got the impression that one
was attending the first read through of the play - the lines were
delivered flatly and the pauses were held so long that you could
have been at a pastiche of a Pinteresque play.
I understand that this was the first night of the tour and it
may be that, as it progresses, the actors will become more accustomed
to their parts and give the play its proper values; although on
last nights showing, I am inclined to doubt it.
This is the second play produced by Peter Hall that I have seen
on tour which failed to match its original production.
I hope it will be the last and that the next tour he sends out
will have actors who can equal, if not excel, the skills of the
roles originators and not lacklustre imitations as in this one.
After all, tours are the only chance a lot of people get to see
the West Ends successes, and they are just as entitled to
expect, and get value for their money, as those who buy tickets
in Shaftesbury Avenue.
Betrayal by Harold Pinter. Director, Sir Peter Hall; Tour
director, Thea Sharrock; Designer, John Gunter; Lighting by Peter
Mumford; Sound by Gregory Clarke.
WITH: Samantha Janus; Antony Byrne; David Michaels; John Davitt.
Producer: Theatre Royal Bath Productions, present the Peter Hall
Richmond Theatre, The Little Green, Richmond, Surrey.
Tuesday, May 18 Saturday, May 22, 2004. Tues Sat:
7.45pm; Mat: Wed & Sat: 2.30pm.
Box Office: 020 8940 0088.