Having read lots of Pinter’s plays over the last academic year, I was excited to actually be off to the theatre to see one. Myself, my wife and a few work colleagues headed off to the Comedy Theatre to see Betrayal starring Kristen Scott Thomas. In my ignorance I said to my work colleagues “Kristen who?” to which I was greeted with rolled eyes and a sudden fall from grace as a person knowledgable on actors. This didn’t matter as I soon got back on my pedestal with my knowledge of all things Pinter
Betrayal is often referred to as the “Pinter play that goes backwards”, but Alex Siersz at my last college study day rightly pointed out, it goes forward a bit, then backwards then forward a bit and then backwards! Whatever, it’s a clever dramaturgical device that works well. It certainly aids the viewer as watching from a vantage point of knowledge/detachment and thus being able to not get emotionally involved, but rather to observe the goings on of the three characters. Brecht would have liked Pinter I feel.
The acting was excellent, the star name of Kristen Scott Thomas delivered, so often the trend of having a well-known (to anyone but me) name on stage is often a bit of a disappointment, such as Keeley Hawes recently, or as my work colleagues remarked about Kiera Knightly (who they saw at the Comedy Theatre earlier this year in, The Children’s Hour.). I was pleasantly surprised that Kristen Scott Thomas was clearly at home on the stage.
Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles provided the love interests and completed the relational triangle we see from its end to its formation many years earlier. They too were at home on stage and were very good, although Douglas Henshall’s Scottish accent seemed more pronounced in some acts to others which seemed a bit strange.
The set design is very clever and allows for the time traveling to be done smoothly and effectively. Likewise Ian Rickson’s direction is sharp, allowing for the necessary Pinteresque pauses, that add to the dramatic tension.
A very good and polished production of this classic play. Worth catching if you can.