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Production Review of Betrayal

Updated on September 16, 2008

When I first heard about the play Betrayal, I was intrigued. The idea of a story being told with a timeline of events flowing in reverse fascinated me. I went to see it performed at the University of Arizona, and it turned out to be a fairly entertaining play, but like many great ideas, it seems to make more sense on paper than it actually did in reality. The play itself is an interesting experience which focuses on the effects that result from secrecy and infidelity. It takes place in Britain, roughly between the middle to late 20th century. As mentioned before, the story is set in reverse chronological order, which requires the audience to piece together each event and unravel the mystery behind the relationships of the characters. This type of structure is very difficult to portray, as it can often completely lose the audience. It was fairly successful; however, there were a few moments during the performance which had me scratching my head while I tried to make sense of it. One negative aspect of the structure of the play was the ending, or in this case, where the story began. Both the ending and beginning of the plot were revealed in the first act, leaving little room for surprises once the play reached the final scene. Still, the writing and the performances of the actors helped make it a solid production nonetheless. The setting opened with Jerry and Emma having a chance meeting at a local coffee shop. They then began to reminisce about past memories which served as the basic outline of the plot. As the scenes progressed, the audience learned that these two were secret lovers, and Emma was actually married to Jerry's best friend Robert. The climax of the play occured when Robert finally discovered that Emma was cheating on him with Jerry, and Jerry and Emma begin to fall out of love with one another. The play concluded with a glimpse of Emma and Jerry meeting for the first time at one of Robert's social parties. Looking past the somewhat confusing storyline, the portrayals of each character were actually very good. The actors gave a rather vivid and realistic performance, which really helped the audience understand the characters on a deeper level. My only criticism would have been with the actor who played Jerry. His british accent was somewhat forced, and he tended to let it slip every now and then. Aside from that, his performance was very well done. One striking feature about this performance was the set. The set design helped sink the audience into the mood of the play by using black metallic furniture and a triangle platform. The triangle was used to symbolize the mixed relationships of the three characters, Jerry, Robert and Emma. At $30 a ticket (I got it for $19 with my student discount, but still fairly pricey for a college performance), it was somewhat worth the money, but perhaps better left reserved for audiences that appreciate plays that think outside the box. For those interested, the play was written by Harold Pinter, and if you google it you might find a showing in a theatre near you.

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    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Good review but this doesn't sound like the type of play that I would want to see - especially at $30 a pop. Still, the idea of presenting a story in reverse is intriguing and the plot itself also sounds interesting.

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