Thursday, 8 March 2012

Betrayal


Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Harold Pinter’s 1978 study of an affair among London literary types and 
its aftermath is both his most grown-up work and his most 
self-indulgent. Dominic Hill’s production – his first as artistic 
director of the Citz – catches both facets, albeit without ever making 
you feel much in the way of empathy with the publisher, the agent, the 
wife or the lovers onstage. But then, as things painfully unwind across 
a decade that begins two years after the end of Jerry’s long-term amour 
with his best friend Robert’s wife Emma, and closes with Jerry’s first 
clumsy drunken pass, it’s hardly Hill’s fault.

On one level, as Cal MacAninch’s Robert, Neve McIntosh’s Emma and Hywel 
Simons’ Jerry navigate their way through the sort of awkward silences 
and knowing banter that only former intimates can stumble into, any 
trademark earnestness is ironed out by a recognition of the 
self-absorbed ridiculousness of it all. Yet there are moments when the 
delivery overloads each line with an unnecessary weight that they're 
perfectly capable of carrying by itself.

As giant screens criss-cross each other at the front of Colin 
Richmond’s slowly revolving set inbetween each scene while Dan Jones’ 
mordant score seeps out, the play nevertheless remains an exquisitely 
melancholy study of lives in reverse, and  how seemingly insignificant 
moments rack up a set of long-term consequences. We never see Jerry 
affectionately throw Robert and Emma’s infant daughter up in the air, 
but it stays with him longer than Emma does.

The play’s time arc, from a jaded and slightly desperate 1977, to the 
endless possibilities of 1968, looks today like a metaphor of romance 
on a far grander scale. Yet, as with this grandest of affairs, it’s never quite 
enough.

The Herald, March 7th 2012

ends

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