Review: Betrayal, by Harold Pinter, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Scene from Harold Pinter's classic play Betrayal which is at Bury Theatre Royal.

Scene from Harold Pinter's classic play Betrayal which is at Bury Theatre Royal. - Credit: Archant

A study of the consequences of an extra marital affair, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal is a modern classic.

Scene from Harold Pinter's classic play Betrayal which is at Bury Theatre Royal.

Scene from Harold Pinter's classic play Betrayal which is at Bury Theatre Royal. - Credit: Archant

And this production by London Classic Theatre strikes the right balance between entertainment and serious social commentary.

Using the device of reverse time, the play looks at key moments in the affair of Emma and Jerry over a period of several years.

Both are middle-class literary - and maybe a little unlikeable - types who, though married to other people, embark on a passionate love affair. Emma’s husband Robert – Jerry’s best friend – and a waiter make up the rest of the play’s characters.

The timeless themes of emotional destruction and the ruthless consequences of betrayal wrought through the actions of Emma and Jerry are explored and examined with consistently high quality acting throughout under the no-nonsense directorship of Michael Cabot.


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The cast is excellent. Rebecca Pownall is superb as the needy Emma. Steven Clarke plays the besotted lover Jerry with aplomb. And Pete Collins does a very good job as the violent-but-wronged husband Robert while Max Wilson as The Waiter showcases his emerging talent.

This production sticks closely to the original setting of the play using period costumes alongside a simple but effective set, which evokes the ideas of decay and disintegration present in the forensic and efficient use of language employed by Pinter. The lighting is also extremely subtle and effective.

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As the play evolves towards the drunken but poetic beginning of the affair, the dramatic tension builds to a final scene when the couple are unaware of the troubles that lay ahead and the price they have yet to pay.

This is a strong production of the highest quality.

Betrayal was followed by an engaging and entertaining talk back session with the cast and director.

James Marston

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